“We are all in this together. We need each other. Oh, how we need each other.”

(Marjorie Pay Hinckley)


Long overdue honest social media.

"I feel like there is this unspoken rule..."

"I feel like there is this unspoken rule in the LDS culture where if you praise your body, and think of yourself as beautiful, you're being haughty and conceited. So instead we point out and compare 'flaws.' We put ourselves down, as if we're making sure we are staying humble.

"Seeing the beauty in your body does not make you vain. Tearing yourself down does not make you humble. It's just the opposite. We are God's greatest creation. Every time you talk negatively about your body, you are criticizing His finest piece of work. His greatest joy. His crowning glory. If I painted a masterpiece, and my child told me that it wasn't good enough, was too big, too small, too tall, too short, not the right color, or just plain ugly, I would be crushed. Why would Heavenly Father feel any different when he hears us speak so harshly about our bodies?"

"...I've been hung up on the Atonement..."

"For as long as I've been aware of the fact that I would need my own relationship with my Heavenly Father, as opposed to clinging to that of my parents, I've been hung up on the Atonement—that intangible thing that I can't entirely wrap my head around. What is it? How do I apply it? What can it do for me?

"A few years ago, I made friends with a girl in my singles ward who came straight from jail. She was a recovering drug addict who was on the first leg of her journey back into activity in the church after a long time away. We were fast friends who made the same jokes and had the same marathon endurance for a Saturday of shopping and patio dining. 

"One year, a dozen visits to the adult parole and probation office, and 100 hours of community service later, she was invited to attend a 12-step meeting on a Sunday night, and like so many other things, I was right by her side. There had been quite a few 'firsts' that came as a part of our friendship, but attending addiction recovery meetings was probably the most monumental. 

"We all had an opportunity to speak and as I listened to the other addicts, family, and friends speak around the circle, I was convinced I didn't have anything valuable to add. But when it was my turn and I bore testimony of the healing and redemptive power of the Atonement—the very thing I had worked so hard to understand and apply in my life—it occurred to me then that 'to some it is given to know... and to some it is given to believe on their words' (D&C 46). 
My best friend's life had been the very example of the Atonement I had been seeking. I watched her grow and struggle and reconcile, and worked right along side her at times, before I realized that I had been witnessing the blessings that only the Atonement could provide to heal her sins and bring peace to her soul."

"Coming home early from my mission..."

"Coming home early from my mission was honestly the hardest year of my life. I write this with occasional tears streaming down my cheeks, and a heart that will probably never be fully whole again. This is personal, but I get asked about it constantly. If someone can benefit from my story, then I am that much more grateful to share it.

"While on my mission, I was diagnosed with anxiety, which was really hard on me. I had no idea that anxiety could cause you to throw up, have stomach and chest pains, digestion problems, no ability to sleep, and panic attacks. 

"For everyone with an invisible illness: The difference between mental and physical illness is that one is seen and the other is not. It's hard to explain to someone who has no clue. It's a daily struggle being in pain or feeling sick on the inside while you look fine on the outside. We all need to realize we should never judge what we don't understand.

"While on my mission, I went to the doctor several times. It was frustrating not knowing what the problem was. It was thought for awhile I had IBS, but when the doctor suggested mental problems, I was beyond confused. I talked to my mission president's wife, our medical advisor, and it was decided I had anxiety. I received permission from my stake president at home, and my parents, to start taking medication. I was really against it at first because I didn't want to rely on medication, but it was suggested that this was the only thing that could help, and I really wanted to stay on my mission, as hard as it was becoming to keep serving.

"This is a journal entry from my mission on June 27, 2012: 

"‘I couldn't sleep tonight, my companion told me to write and let all my thoughts and feelings out, so that's what I'm going to do. 

"‘Well... I'm shocked to be quite honest. I never thought this would happen to me, and least of all places on my mission. It's heart breaking. To have wanted to serve a mission my whole life, to dream about it, and to get here and have it be the hardest thing I've ever done, and it to be so hard on me that I have to take medication to cope... it hurts. 

"‘It's like I'm not strong enough to do this, to be a missionary. Any missionary could come in and do what I do, so what am I needed for? I'm stuck, at least that's how I feel. I'm a little scared too. What if I can't get over this? I don't know how to handle it and fix it. I also feel as if I'm losing myself.

"‘I don't understand why I have been given this trial, but Heavenly Father does, and I guess that's what really matters. Sometimes I wish I could borrow His spiritual eyes and see what He sees. Hopefully one day I'll understand why all of this is happening to me. Is it because Satan is trying to stop me? If he is, am I going to let him win? 

"‘I don't know if I have much fight left in me. I'm lacking faith in myself. Can I really do this? It's just this never ending spiral and I don't know how to make it stop so I can climb back up from how far I've already gone down.’

"(That’s how I felt, and sometimes how I still feel. It still scares me at times. It hasn't necessarily gotten any easier. I have just learned how to deal with it and accept—for the most part—that this has happened and I may have to deal with it the rest of my life.) 

"After that journal entry in June, things just got worse.

"I was transferred to the valley to be closer to the mission home so I could get the help I needed. I was able to see doctors and a counselor once a month, although that proved to not help my illness, but it was nice to cry to someone who was trying to understand and help. I was prescribed medication that was supposed to take up to 6 weeks to work, but after more than 6 weeks had passed, I wasn't improving. 

"I went back to the doctor and he prescribed something else that I wasn't allowed to take as a missionary because of its maintenance. So I was  referred to a psychiatrist. That was really hard on me. I was there with a bunch of kids who had obvious mental disabilities, and felt like I should be put in a mental hospital or something. It was a stab to the soul. The psychiatrist gave me another prescription that was supposed to take 3-4 weeks to work, and after that time had gone by, I still wasn't doing better.

"At this point I was just a wreck. I developed depression with my anxiety and struggled with almost everything. I always thought that mental illnesses were choices, and that you could just snap out of it, but I couldn't have been more wrong. It's not like that at all. It almost controls you... it's not you. I would wake up in the morning with no desire to do anything or see anyone. I didn't care about a thing, not missionary work, not the people. It was horrible because I knew I should and I was disappointing so many people but I didn't care about that either. I had no desire to do anything. And I could never sleep for more than a few hours at a time. I was emotional all over the place. I couldn't sit still to save my life, I wasn't me.

"At this point I had discussed going home with my mission president. At first that's all I could really think about. After talking to him, he helped me realize that it wasn't my decision to make. I will forever be grateful to him for giving me a kick in the butt when I needed it most. He let me talk to my mom, which was more of me listening and crying as she tried to speak strength and love to me. A couple more weeks went by and it was finally decided I should go home. I knew I wasn't going to get better in the field, but that didn't make coming home any easier.

"For the first few days of being home I was doing so much better. It was beyond wonderful to see my family again and have their support. I was able to see my doctor and be put on a medication that finally helped me! But those days didn't last very long. I was still pretty sick, physically and mentally. I didn't want to get out of bed in the morning, there was no point. I didn't want to do anything because I had no desire to, and I just didn't know what to do with myself. I was afraid of talking to people for what they may think and the questions they would ask. No one really understood. Others would try, and I appreciated that, but it didn't help. It was no one's fault, but it made me feel alone and apart from the world. I was ashamed of what I felt I didn't accomplish, and that others assumed I came home because I did something wrong. It was as if I was a failure. And no one likes to feel like a failure, especially when you feel like you failed your Savior.

"I started seeing a counselor every week and that I think made the most difference in the end. He taught me how to deal with my anxiety and realize what was causing it. (Now that I know what causes it I can control it more, but that doesn't mean it's completely gone. I still have it. It's not all just about my thoughts, some of it is just how I'm wired.) I saw improvement over weeks, and eventually was able to stop seeing my counselor, but continue with the medication.

"For a long time I wondered if I would ever feel like my old self again. Through e-mails I sent home while on my mission my mom could tell that I wasn't myself. She wished people from my mission could know the daughter she knows. I don't think I'll ever completely be that person again.  You're not necessarily supposed to be the same person you were before your mission, but I changed in a different way. I feel like that gets rubbed in my face constantly, not on purpose of course. It’s every farewell and homecoming, every time someone asks about my mission or talks about theirs, church lessons, etc. It's like I'm getting salt sprinkled in that never fully-healed wound. 

"I didn't come home with that fire return missionaries return with. My homecoming wasn't the typical homecoming. It was one of happiness but not the happiness I wanted it to be. My mission president said it'd be something I'll always have to live with, and I knew that, but I thought maybe it'd get easier. 

"I talked to one of my cousins who came home early from his mission because of his knee. He's been home now for 8 years, and it hasn't gotten easier for him. That wasn't what I wanted to hear, but talking to him about it helped. 

"Maybe that's why things like this happen to us—so that we can share our experience with others who go through the same thing. There have been a few people I’ve been able to talk to who have gone through similar experiences, and feel I like I have been able to help them. In multiple blessings I received on my mission, often it was promised that this trial would help my future family, so I'll cling to that as well.

"The most important reason this may have happened was for me to grow closer to my Savior. He has done so much for me, for all of us, and if I have the opportunity to experience just a little of what He did, then I am grateful and better for it. There is nothing greater than being able to walk in His shoes, even if it's just a step or two. I have a greater appreciation and understanding of His love and sacrifice for me. He experienced all that I have experienced, and will experience, but it is privilege to say the same about Him. And I'm not saying that I get what He did or know fully, because I don't, but I am just that much closer to Him because of the trial He so lovingly placed before me. I couldn't have made it through this without Him.

"I wouldn't change anything I've learned from this experience. I am who I am today because of it. I'm stronger and have been refined into the woman Heavenly Father wants me to be, and that is all that matters."

Passing this information on to you:

TO READERS OF RLMW. I received this email and am passing it on to you. Perhaps you, or someone you know, would be interested in participating. I am not endorsing this, nor do I know these people personally, I am just passing on the information. Proceed at your own risk:


Hi there - I am in writing to you in hopes of posting on your page. My name is Patti Karnes and I am working on a documentary series about women and religion. For the series we are featuring women in their 20's who have converted to a religion they had not grown up with. We are interviewing women who are either in the process of converting or have recently converted (within last year) to hear what called them to their new path, how is has changed their life and how it has changed their relationship with God. I have attached a posting that we have been sending out. We will be featuring all religions and are currently searching for 2 Women in the Mormon faith to interview. If you have any questions please feel free to call me anytime - thank you! Patti 267-221-7313


Seeing the Light: 20 Something's share their stories of conversion.

For many women as you reach your 20’s you begin the process of creating the building blocks and choosing your path in life. Questions emerge and hopefully are answered - which career will you chose? Will you marry and have children? Where will you live? What is truly important to you? This may also be the time you reflect on what it means to have a higher power in your life and what tools does religion provide you in having a relationship with God? More specifically have you chosen a religious path that is different from the way you were raised?

What does it mean to become Mormon? What are the core beliefs of the faith that match your own? What was the driving force that called you to the church? How has this choice impacted your life? And how has converting or thinking about converting changed your relationship with God?

A new docu-series pilot is delving into these questions and is looking for women who have chosen Mormonism. If you are in the process of converting or have recently converted then they are looking for you!

If interested in sharing your conversion story please email contact below.

Patti Karnes
Watercooler Casting
casting.pkarnes@gmail.com

"I suffer from anxiety..."

"I suffer from anxiety, and for the most part, I function 'normally' without medication. But there are days I feel so weighted down by worry and fear, that I want to do nothing but stay in bed where I can avoid pain and heartache. 

"A part of our Gospel belief is that trials are a part of this earthly life. We believe those trials are to help us grow as individuals and help us grow closer to our Heavenly Father. We knew when we chose to come down to earth, as part of the Plan of Salvation, that we would face hardships and challenges–some that would try to break us—yet we bravely chose to come down. I believe this with all of my heart, but despite my belief, this is a concept that haunts me. 

"I often find myself going through day-to-day life waiting for the next trial to hit. I am sometimes afraid to let myself be truly happy or soak in the beautiful moments. There is a voice in the back of my mind quietly reminding me not to get too comfortable, be too happy, or love too fiercely because a new trial is bound to come soon. At times I let this fear overshadow all the good and the beauty that is in my life. 

"I have faith in my Heavenly Father—faith that He is guiding my life. I believe He is providing me with the best opportunities to learn and grow and become a better version of myself, but sometimes that faith is hard. It is hard to not feel afraid, or worry about what my little family is going to face. It is hard not be overcome with all that life brings. 

"We are getting ready to expand our little family again, but I have been struggling with this decision. Not because I don't want another sweet little one to lighten our lives, but because I fear for that little one. I fear for what their challenges may be, or what pain they may have to experience, and right now that fear is winning." 

PLEASE HELP.

I NEED YOU.

If you're a follower of RLMW, or just a once-in-a-while casual reader, I'll bet you've thought, "I would like to share ___________________, but I can't write [or feel comfortable sharing, or not sure anyone will be interested, or what will others think of me, or a number of other reasons]." I am here to assure you all of these reasons can be dealt with.

If you don't write, send me your thoughts and I will work with you to compose an entry you will be pleased with.

If you're not comfortable sharing, do it anonymously.

I promise that whatever you are wanting to share, there is a reader who can identify with your thoughts and will appreciate reading them.

As for what others might think, you might be surprised with the fact others do not judge what's in RLMW, but they appreciate the courage it takes to share.

Check the right hand column of this page to see how easy it is to send in an entry.

I know I have readers, but I am lacking contributors. A couple more, and I'm out of posts. And if that's the case, okay then. I'll leave the blog up for others to glean from.  But it would sure be nice to keep adding to the pool that has been changing lives.

Thank you for supporting this blog. I am truly humbled to be part of it.

Let's be real,
Sue

"Different can be so good, but it can also be exhausting."

"I can’t make anyone else truly love or value me by trying to be what they want."


❈❈❈❈❈❈❈❈


"I’m not my Mother. Our views, talents, triumphs, deficiencies and failings are very different. Different can be so good, but it can also be exhausting."

“I've been thinking lately about parenting ‘methods’ and advice..."

“I've been thinking lately about parenting ‘methods’ and advice.  These little two foot humans we birth can be intimidating, even to the most confident parent.  There are still times I look at my baby when she fusses and wonder, ‘What is it you want?’  In the night at 6am after being up for three hours, I ask that through tears.

“Even worse than wondering what it is your child wants, is a deeper confusion that lies to you saying, ‘You've messed your child up.  You're doing something wrong.’ Or, ‘If only you'd done this or that, then you and your child would be better off.’  

“I think that's part of the problem.  The assumption that BECAUSE my child is having a hard time, I must have done something WRONG. 

“I think of other moms I know and so many are bathed in feelings of self doubt, wondering if they are failing their children.  These are horrible feelings to carry and I don't believe they come from God. In my heart I feel and know that God honors mothers.  He so appreciates every sacrifice and effort that mothers make to bring children into the world and raise them. He doesn't look down on me as I rock my precious daughter at 3am and think, ‘If only you had followed Baby Wise methods more precisely, you wouldn't be in this mess.’  Rather I believe He looks at me with love and compassion—as a new mother, still healing, giving so much of herself to care for her daughter, His daughter too.  He knows I am doing what I can and that I love her. I believe that is what matters most to Him. I imagine He cares very little about whether I choose to follow this method or that.  Those methods are more for my sanity and have nothing of eternal significance in them.

“It's far too easy to be judgmental and critical of ourselves and of each other.  We often fall prey to thinking there's a right or wrong way to do things.  In very few cases there is a right or wrong way that applies to each and every family, each and every mother, each and every child.  No, in most cases, there are just options and we all get to choose.  We get to try.  We get to learn and we get to try again.  The last thing we need is to be hard on ourselves or hard on each other.

“So when you look at the mother with a child who is acting out, rather than thinking, ‘Oh, if only she would only do this or that,’ how about instead you extend her the same love and compassion that you yourself need in your own mothering.”

"I have two siblings who are so angry at each other..."

"I have two siblings who are so angry at each other, our family hasn't been in the same room together for more years that I can remember. As far as the eye can see, we'll never have a family photo, we'll never have a holiday together, and things will always be just a little bit broken among us. 

"They've both been so firmly planted in their position, it's no longer a contest to see who will outlast who, or who will bend first. I fear that they're stuck; atrophied in their pride. The mean feelings and hateful words have transcended generations by now, which hurts the rest of us—probably more than either of them are able to recognize."

"...I was told I had been forgiven...."

The atonement is REAL. 

Driving home from my parents late one night, I felt impressed to turn off my radio and drive in silence. My first thought was so I would be extra alert in case there was danger ahead. As I drove on, a voice entered my mind, much like I'd heard others experience before but never for myself, and as clear as day, fully aware it was not my personal thoughts, I was told I had been forgiven. 

I continually questioned the voice. Could it really be? And I was told over and over again for the remainder of my drive, "You have been forgiven."

After years of painful repentance, many tearful visits with the bishop, soul-searching appointments with a therapist, occasional times of slacking because I didn't feel worthy of forgiveness, pain stricken days with my heartbroken husband, and wondering so many times if I'd ever truly feel like the Lord has forgiven me...and it happened. Heavenly Father had granted me forgiveness for the affair I'd had. 

Never in my life had I thought I'd one day be the wife that had to sit her husband down professing my love for him, something I'd really only become acutely aware of after the indiscretion had been done, and confess that months earlier I had become involved with another man. 

The months I spent preparing for that night of confession were filled with so many emotions, but mostly fear. I was convinced he was going to leave me, or demand I leave. When I was faced with the realization that I could not live my life with this secret, and I would never want him to find out from anyone other than myself, I had to move forward, accepting that this may end us. 

That night the Lord was very much aware of my delicate heart, and the pain I was inflicting upon my husband. So much was destroyed that night, but I choose to focus on what was not lost. Our marriage.

My sweet husband decided within days that he didn't want a divorce, and he wanted to fix us. I thank the Lord every night for such a forgiving, even sympathetic, partner. I am constantly reminded by the Holy Spirit that my dear husband understands the atonement, and with that knowledge and so much more, he has been able to forgive me as well. 

The journey of forgiving myself has not reached its end, and I don't have a clue as to when it will. But, knowing my Father in Heaven has forgiven me gives me hope I may reach that internal relief soon. 


The atonement is REAL.

"It has been difficult for me to watch..."

In my own life I have learned I am TRULY not in charge. Sometimes it is hard to accept that all things are done on HIS timeline, not ours.

It has been difficult for me to watch my grown kids struggle with real life, serious issues. But a victory I have witnessed is that one of my daughters is finally able to marry the man of her dreams; and her son will have a dad who will take care of him. 

Something I would change in this world is the hatred people so often have for one another. 

"I have an unhealthy fear of death..."

"I have an unhealthy fear of death. Scenarios run through my head all the time of how I'll have to tell my husband that I've found our baby lifeless in his crib, or how a close family member will have to tell our three year old that his mommy and daddy aren't coming home, etc. I fear myself dying and leaving my family behind just as much as I fear my family members dying. I can't stop the macabre thinking, and it's often kept me up at night. 

"I fully believe in life after death, and in the plan of salvation. I know I will see my family again in heaven, and I have no doubt that I will spend eternity with my husband and children. But that does not help me in my fear of death.

"I've even made a deal with God. Soon after the birth of our second son, I was unable to sleep because I was crippled with the thought of losing my sweet newborn. Per the advice of my mother, I knelt down and pleaded with the Lord to please protect my family and keep us safe from death. I promised to do something that in the past I've neglected doing on a daily basis, and I would fully put my faith in Him and his plan for us, all the while hoping that His plan would not take us prematurely from this earth.

"This deal has eased my fears somewhat, to the point that I can sleep at night without sobs racking my body, but the scenarios still run through my head. I hope that as I explore the gospel more and more each day, that my faith grows stronger and my trust in the Lord can assure me there is no need to fear this to the extent that I have."

WHAT ARE WOMEN SAYING ABOUT RLMW?

“This was the most INSIGHTFUL ARTICLE yet. I just want to hug this RLMW for about an hour. She isn't only ‘real,’ she is dead-on ‘right.’ Loved it and love you Sue Samson Peterson for providing a place where voices are heard and faith is promoted.”

"Thank you for bringing light and hope to women."

"Can I just say how much I love that you are doing this? Honesty in my friendships with women has always been important to me. I don't know why we feel the need to bring each other down even when we don't feel like we are doing something malicious. Even just pretending your life is problem free is so damaging."

"Totally loving RLMW! It is my one read that I allow myself each morning before tackling the day."


Take the leap and become part of Real Life Mormon Women. 

I'm asking for honest answers to any of the following questions:

* Something you would change (in yourself, or others, or the world, or anything else for that matter).

* A lesson you've recently learned.

* A struggle.

* A victory.

Email your answers to: suepete@mac.com

(Answers can be posted anonymously upon request.)

"... My brothers tried to tell me that the mission would rock me to the core at times..."

"When I finally decided to go on my mission I was incredibly excited and a lot naïve. My brothers tried to tell me that the mission would rock me to the core at times, that it would be the hardest thing I had ever done. Their warnings went in one ear and out the other. All I knew was that I knew I was supposed to go and I wanted to go more than anything.

"Within two weeks in the mission field, in Italy, I understood what my brothers were saying and it rocked me to the core. This was going to be hard.

"I’d say the mission is 80% extremely hard and 20% wonderful. There was depression, extreme fatigue, lack of understanding, rejection, guilt, questioning why I’d come and extreme loneliness.

"Had I known how hard the mission would be I would never have gone. I remember writing my Dad and asking him, 'Why didn’t you tell me this would be so hard? How could you do that to me?'

"His response was simply. 'You wouldn't have understood. You can’t have the mission experience without the mission.'

"This week I had somewhat of a meltdown. It happens every so often with me. When the economy hit it took us and many others with it. This week I was reminded that seven years later things still aren't much better. Sometimes that gets hard.

"My husband and I talked about in the scriptures where we read that each of us shouted for joy at the prospect of coming to Earth. And suddenly it hit me. I remembered the night before I went on my mission, the excitement, the childlike innocence, the immense faith. Even though my brothers had tried to warn me, I couldn't understand. How could I? Perhaps it was the same in the pre-existence. In that state of complete innocence, how could we possibly understand what it would be like to lose a child, or not be able to have one. To lose a spouse or not be able to have one. To suffer addiction, to have a terminal illness, to have children stray and spouses who are abusive. To not be able to provide, to suffer from mental illness and many other things. 

"Maybe we didn’t shout for joy at the process. Maybe we shouted because we knew the end result.

"Perhaps the pre-existence me was a little like the pre-mission me.

"I remember sitting in a zone conference and looking around the room at the other missionaries. They were dejected, exhausted. A lot of them felt like failures. An elder that I knew well—he was amazing, one of the best, full of faith- raised his hand. He asked, 'Why aren’t we having more baptisms?'

"Then came the well meaning, but harsh reply, 'Because you don’t have enough faith.'

"Thank goodness for the spirit which in that moment spoke to me and told that was simply not true.

"Afterword I went up to that elder. I explained to him my feelings. I told him that faith will lead us to those who are ready to hear, faith will give us what we are to say in the moment we need to say it and faith will sustain us in those incredibly difficult times, but faith cannot make someone else be baptized. Everyone has their own agency.

"It is the same with life. Faith may not cure a child’s cancer, faith may not bring back a dying spouse or cure their terminal or mental illness, faith may not bring back a straying child, or cure a horrible addiction. It may not cause parents to get the child they so desperately want or someone to find a spouse in this life. Faith may not cure a handicap or depression.

"In regards to all of those things, often on the mission, people would say, 'Why would God do that to people?' The answer is simple— He wouldn't.

"Life is life. Life simply happens. Children get to choose just as adults do, addiction has consequences, people get sick, life is full of depression, extreme fatigue, rejection, guilt and extreme loneliness.

"Perhaps we will all return and ask like I did of my earthly father. 'Why didn’t you tell me this would be so hard?' Perhaps our Heavenly Father's answer will be the same as my earthly father's. 'Because you would not have understood. You cannot have the life experience without experiencing life.'

"God did not cause us to lose a job and neither did lack of faith, just in the same way that faith may not cause us to make more money, find a better job or get us a house.

"However faith will sustain each of us in our darkest times. Faith will make our burdens light.

"Life is not fair because none of us chose the plan that was all about fair. We chose the plan that would get us back to Heavenly Father with more understanding, humility, love, patience and faith.

"QUOTE:'The fact is that most putts don't drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just ordinary people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. . . . Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.'― Jenkin Lloyd Jones 

"And then on my mission there was the other 20%. And suddenly the other 80% was all worth it. There were moments of incredible faith, understanding, love, friendship, compassion and yes, even miracles. Rare moments of knocking on someone’s door and having them say, 'I’ve been waiting for you.'

"Had I known how incredible the mission would be for me, what it would do for me personally, what it would do for my testimony. I would never have missed it. It is the same with life. There is so much good in this world. Faith will allow us to see it through those hard times. Faith is incredible. How else do people not only survive those horrible situations, but continue smiling and laughing and hoping despite of them? They believe. They know the gospel is true. They have faith that Jesus Christ will and has provided a way to make it all work out.

"Quote by Jeffery R. Holland: 'Anyone who does any kind of missionary work will have occasion to ask, Why is this so hard? Why doesn’t it go better? Why can’t our success be more rapid? Why aren’t there more people joining the Church? It is the truth. We believe in angels. We trust in miracles. Why don’t people just flock to the font? Why isn’t the only risk in missionary work that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font?

"'You will have occasion to ask those questions. I have thought about this a great deal. I offer this as my personal feeling. I am convinced that missionary work [and life] is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders [and all of us] have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders [and all of us] have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary.

"'Now, please don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about anything anywhere near what Christ experienced. That would be presumptuous and sacrilegious. But I believe that missionaries and investigators [and all of us], to come to the truth, to come to salvation, to know something of this price that has been paid, will have to pay a token of that same price.

"'For that reason I don’t believe missionary work has ever been easy, nor that conversion is, nor that retention is, nor that continued faithfulness is [nor that life is]. I believe it is supposed to require some effort, something from the depths of our soul.

"'If He could come forward in the night, kneel down, fall on His face, bleed from every pore, and cry, ''Abba, Father [Papa], if this cup can pass, let it pass,'' then little wonder that salvation is not a whimsical or easy thing for us. If you wonder if there isn’t an easier way, you should remember you are not the first one to ask that. Someone a lot greater and a lot grander asked a long time ago if there wasn’t an easier way.'

"Life is full of good. Perhaps 80% of it is about enduring to the end and trying to be happy despite some extremely hard circumstances. The fact is, we do have a guarantee. Jesus Christ died for us so that we may live again if we remain faithful.

"Faith is seeing that there is another way to live in hard situations. Faith is optimism. Faith is believing that eventually-- and yes sometimes it isn't until after this life, that everything will be OK. It is not the cure-all. There is no cure-all in this life. That comes later. That's when addictions that have been fought are conquered, marriages that endured are blessed, we finally get our mansion, children come back and families are together forever."

“Myth: The marks on my body from having children are ugly..."

“Myth: The marks on my body from having children are ugly.

“I don't mean for this to apply only to mothers, because in life we all get 'marked'. Whether physically or emotionally, these marks become a part of who we are. Difficult or challenging experiences, even the happy ones, leave us changed forever.  Marked.

“The choice we have is how to view these ‘marks.’

“In my inexperience, I had never considered that pregnancy could change you forever. I had just thought I would return perfectly to who I was before.

“And from the first pregnancy I mostly did, physically (although not from the second and third). But not emotionally. Nope, I was never going to be the same emotionally after bringing a child into the world and caring for that little baby and being challenged in ways I had never dreamt.  I became a little more mature but also a little more serious.  I think I lost some of the childlike lightness I had before.  Gradually I have brought back ‘lighter’ pieces of myself that were a bit lost  My very personality has been marked by motherhood.

“Then after my second child I had physical marks. Varicose veins haunted my pregnancy and remained afterwards.  My core reminded me of a balloon that had been blown up, twice.  That double stretch left the skin a bit loose and I now carried a bit of fat there, which I never had before.  It bothered me. Just as with the veins, I found myself looking down at that part of my body, often.  Wishing it would 'just go away'.

“The veins have been a source of constant sadness to me, as I've watched new spider veins fail and grow dark in various spots.  I felt a bit helpless watching this.  
“These physical changes have been more challenging to me than the emotional ones.  With the emotional ones, I realized that the changes were 'enriching' me, rather than 'detracting' from who I am.  Giving me more empathy and compassion for others, allowing me to grow and change.   But shouldn't the same principles apply to physical change?  I think so;  I am enriched physically as I experience life and change because of it.  

“Perhaps we can also be mindful in how we talk to other women about their 'marks' or lack of 'marks'.  In a beautifully written email from an anonymous friend of mine:

“‘Women are so competitive with each other. We all want to look like we ‘were never pregnant’ at our first visit back to church with our newborns. Like the best compliment we can get from girlfriends is that we don't look like we were ever pregnant. ‘Oh congrats on the new baby! You look great! You look like you weren't even pregnant!’ (that's an appropriate compliment?) I wish we could celebrate something else after giving birth like I don't know maybe the beautiful miracle of life you just created - and not compete with how other women ‘bounce back’ after pregnancy and post on Facebook how soon we fit back into our ‘skinny’ jeans. That kind of conversation with other women in my opinion almost creates unnecessary walls and or tension between the women who can bounce back and the women who can't or at least not as quickly.  I have made a point never to comment on a new mom's physical appearance but focus on her beautiful baby and or her wonderful mothering. It's one thing to be healthy and happy it's another to try to meet unrealistic standards set by comparing ourselves to others. ‘’Comparison is the thief of Joy.’’ Theodore Roosevelt.’

So in our conversations with others and even more importantly, the conversations we have in our own heads, I hope we can all give more honor to these marks.  Remembering that we came here to earth to be marked up.  To live.  To learn and grow and offer the world something good by the fruits of our lives, including children and all other good things we give the world.  Bringing life into this world is an amazing thing and to be marked up because of it is kinda special.”