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    Our Steve.

    You know that one cousin? The one that everyone looks forward to seeing at the family dinner because they can make you laugh so hard your cheeks ache? The young cousins look so much up to them. Heck, the older cousin do, too. They seem like the perfect combo of silly and strong. 

    In our family, that cousin is named Steve. Steve was a couple of years older than me and a million times cooler. My earliest memory of Steve is of him packing his family's navy blue Suburban as we got ready to visit my aunt and uncle's ranch. He was wearing faded light jeans and a matching denim vest... a matching denim vest lined with faux fur. That's it. Oh! He did have on cowboy boots that were two sizes too big. We were still young, but in my mind, he was the coolest guy I had ever known.

    Steve made our whole family laugh harder than I can remember. It feels like yesterday that he and his twin, John, we sitting on the barstools in his mom's kitchen cracking jokes while the rest of the cousins just watched and enjoyed the show. 

    As funny as Steve was, he was even kinder. Steve was a cool kid at East High school that made his little dorky cousin, thats me, feel famous by association. 

    18 months into his service in the NY/NY North Mission, Steve got really sick. Steve, my superhero cousin, had leukemia. Steve fought like no one has ever fought. Even in the deepest points of the battle, Steve remained positive and continued to testified of his love for his Savior and His atonement. 

    On October 27, 2014 we said 'goodbye' to our Steve for a time. We miss his jokes, but we have not lost his spirit. He is always close. 

    Steve and our family will always be grateful for the wonderful medical team at Primary Children's Medical Center for their endless and loving care. Though we can never repay them, we will be donating $10 for every Q.NOOR Stevie dress purchased to Primary Children's. We hope to help another family have even just one more day with their Steve. 

    Weeping May Endure for a Night, but Joy Cometh in the Morning.

    by Jenna Richards

    This is the first time I have written my story, and I am not even sure where to begin. But on April 2nd, 2016, my life forever changed. 

    On Saturday, April 2nd, my husband, Chase, was supposed to pick Jack and I up in Brigham City, UT.  We had been at my parents’ house, but we were going to meet Chase sometime around noon to eat at our favorite restaurant,  Maddox, and head back home. That morning I texted him at 7:30 to see if he was awake and ask what time I should head out. I didn’t hear anything back. By 9:30, I called and texted again, but still no word.  This wasn’t like him, but I still wasn’t too worried because I assumed he was sleeping in due to working early mornings all week.  By 11:00, and still no answer, I knew something was wrong. I then texted his Dad and asked if he’d heard anything from Chase.  He said no, but that he would go to our house and make sure everything was okay.  He went there with Chase’s brother, and soon after I received the worst phone call ever. His voice was frantic and he said, “Jenna, Chase is unconscious! We’ve called for an ambulance. Come right now!!” I was frantically running around bawling while trying to pack our bags as fast as I could before heading to Utah. Luckily, my Dad was able to drive us, since I was in no shape to be driving. Truthfully, I don’t remember the 3-hour drive all that much. I just remember getting updates, then that dreaded message from my Bishop saying Chase was being life-flighted  to SLC. Death still wasn’t on my mind.  I was thinking more about what we would possibly have to do for recovery, etc. As soon as we got into SLC though, the reality and panic set in and I immediately grabbed a bag and threw up. It felt like forever to get to the hospital, since it was Conference weekend and the streets were packed. I was getting frantic, wanting to scream out the window, “EVERYONE, PLEASE MOVE!! I started getting agitated and just wanted to get out of the car and start running. When we finally got to the hospital, I jumped out of the car, grabbed Jack, and ran into the lobby. As soon as I walked in, I instantly got dizzy and the nausea kicked back in. I handed Jack to my Dad, ran to the bathroom, and threw up one more time. Maybe deep down I knew it wasn’t going to be good, and I was scared to face reality. 

    When I walked into Chase’s room, I was shocked and taken aback, and I knew immediately this was way worse than I could have ever imagined. Within 5 minutes of being there, Chase’s doctor walked in to let us all know things didn’t look good. It was such a strange feeling seeing someone say those words so calm and collected. Shouldn’t this guy be heartbroken to deliver such hard news? I didn’t want to believe his words, so I was grasping for straws at this point, begging people to tell me everything was going to be ok. Deep down I knew he probably wasn’t going to make it, but I refused to believe it and I was not ready to face that reality.

    Chase was then placed in a hypothermic state.  The doctors decided they wouldn’t be doing any MRI’s or EEG’s for 24 hours to see if the brain swelling would go down. It was then we found out Chase had aspirated in his sleep, which deprived his brain and other organs of the oxygen they needed for many hours. The next 24 hours were hell. I felt helpless watching Chase hooked up to life support, his body quivering.  The sound of a machine pushing air into his lungs and the ominous, never-ending sound of beeping machines still haunts me. This is something nobody can prepare you for. 

    One of my best friends, Kim, rushed to the hospital to take Jack for the night, and by midnight I decided to go sleep for a few hours at a hotel down the street so I could function and be prepared for the next day. On Sunday Chase’s vitals were all looking good, but he was still in a coma and we still had no idea how much brain damage had been done. By this time family and friends started pouring in and showing their support, which was a blessing. I couldn’t have doneSunday without some of my best friends and family by my side. It was a long, emotional and draining day. 

    That night I got to spend some alone time with Chase and i just held his hand while I talked to him. I tickled his arm and kept telling him I was there and to not be scared, to just relax, I was right there next to him, and would be throughout everything. 

    By Monday morning we knew we’d be getting the news soon on his brain function and I was physically sick. By this time I had hardly eaten in two days and I was exhausted and weak. At noon Elder Oaks came and gave him a beautiful blessing.  As soon as it was over, I knew in my heart Chase was not going to be with us much longer. As much as I didn’t want to admit it, I just knew. 

    Hours passed and, finally, the doctors pulled us into a room and delivered the news. Chase was showing no brain function. He was brain dead. After he said those words, I just zoned out. I don’t even remember anything else he said. At the end of the conversation, he brought up taking Chase off of life support and then looked at me to get the ok. I shook my head yes with tears streaming down my face. I couldn’t believe it. This was it. Chase was not going to be here much longer with us. 

    Before the life support machines were turned off, we all took a turn being alone with him in his room for a private goodbye. I crawled into his bed, laid my head on his chest and sobbed. The tears couldn’t stop. All I could say was, “Chase, I love you so much. I love you so much.” I promised him I would always take good care of Jack and we would keep his memory alive. I apologized for all of the times I could have been a better wife, and then I gave him a final kiss on his lips. My sister then brought Jack in and we laid on the bed as a family one last time. I couldn’t believe this would be the last time our baby boy would see his Dad. My heart could hardly handle it. I just remember telling Chase that Jack would always know him, and to please take care of us. That final goodbye was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do because I knew this would be the last time Jack would ever see his Dad on this earth. 

    I walked out, handed Jack to my sister, then went into the corner of the hallway and lost it. I l felt like my life was over.  How was I ever going to overcome such a trial? I had never felt so such despair in my life. I couldn’t believe that this was actually happening to me.  I was angry, sad, and broken.

    After everyone had their alone-time with him, we all gathered in the room.  Chase and I’s bishop gave a final prayer before we unplugged him from the machines. The doctor said Chase could go fairly quickly, but we were uncertain. By this time it was around 8pm. The nurses came in and unplugged everything.  Then we just sat around his bed, held his hand, and spoke to him, hoping he’d slip away peacefully. Quickly, his breathing became labored and he seemed uncomfortable. About every 30 minutes nurses would come in to give him more sedation and pain meds to make sure he was as comfortable as possible and to keep his body calm. Hours passed, and his body kept fighting. We even said two more prayers pleading with our Heavenly Father to take him, and that we would be ok.  Finally at 3:28am, after a 7-hour valiant fight, Chase took his last breath. I remember I was at the end of his bed and I thought I was going to collapse. I had never seen someone die, so to see my own husband pass on was more than I could see or take. My Mom quickly came to my side and held me as I was overcome with emotion. I couldn’t believe it. Just like that, he was gone. I kept saying over and over, “I can’t see him like this, Mom, I can’t see him dead.  Just take me home.” So we tiredly gathered up our things and went out to the car to head home. Since my Mom didn’t know her way around Salt Lake, I drove her car with her, and my Dad drove his own. I was so numb, I didn’t even know how to get to the freeway, even though I had done that route hundreds of times. Finally, clear out in West Valley, I got my bearings and made it back to the freeway. 

    I remember walking in the house at around 4:15 am with the most empty feeling I had ever felt. I knew Jack would be waking in a few short hours and I wasn’t ready to face reality so soon. I went to our bathroom, filled up the tub, and sat in a hot bath as I cried the little bit of tears I had left.  Then I went to Chase’s closet, pulled out his favorite sweats and a big oversized sweater and crawled into bed with his pillow.  The sheets and everything smelled like him, and right then and there, I didn’t want to wake up. I just wanted to go. I know that sounds selfish, but I also wasn’t  thinking clearly and going on very little sleep and food. 

    The next few days were a blur as we prepared for Chase’s funeral, picking out his casket, deciding what flowers, and a million other little things. I had no idea how much planning (and money) went into something so depressing. The morning of the viewing Chase’s parents, his brother, Preston, and sister, Laura, and I all gathered to see Chase’s body for the first time since he passed away.  I wasn’t sure if I was ready to see him like that, but I kind of had no choice at this point. We were led into a room where his peaceful body was laying, and I was immediately breathless, sick, and shaking. We said a prayer for peace, then dressed him slowly in his temple clothing that he would be buried in. That moment was surreal, and to be quite honest, one of the harder things I had to do that week. I wasn’t quite prepared for that moment. But then again, is anyone prepared for something like that?

    Something life-changing happened when I left the funeral home that day. I remember pulling up to a red light right by Bingham High School and I looked to my right and I made eye contact with a guy in a truck next to me. I instantly thought, “this guy has no idea what I just had to do.” And right then and there I thought to myself, “how many people have I passed who were facing something so tragic in that very moment and I just walked by them not knowing?” Because of this experience, I try harder to be kinder and more patient with strangers. 

    That night was Chase’s viewing.   He had such a huge turnout, along with the funeral the next day. So many people loved Chase and he made friends wherever he went. That was one of Chase’s greatest qualities. He made everyone feel like they were his best friend and always made everyone around him feel so comfortable and special. 

    After the funeral, graveside service, and luncheon, I went to our home, grabbed the last of our stuff, and got on the road to Idaho, since I would be moving back in with my parents so I could get some help with Jack and get back on my feet. 

    Fast forward 5 months, and here I am. Today (Sep 6th) would have actually been Chase and I’s 2-year anniversary. I can truthfully say the days are getting a little easier. I still have moments with major setbacks. But, for the most part, I am starting to slowly heal. I don’t have that panic like I did those first few months where I literally felt like my soul was broken. Not that I still don’t feel that way sometimes, but I am starting to take baby steps towards a new life without Chase. And that doesn’t mean I have to forget about him to start a new beginning, because he will always be in the back of my mind until the day I die. 

    I guess if I have learned one thing from this experience, it’s to always trust my Heavenly Father’s plan. His plan was obviously different than what I had in mind.   He sees the whole picture and I have to put my trust in his hands. After all, he gave his own life so I could endure this trial. My testimony has grown leaps and bounds since Chase’s passing, and sometimes I feel guilty that it took something so tragic to wake me up. But I am thankful for the many blessings and tender mercies that have come my way since April 2nd. So many life changes, mostly hard, but some, oh, so good and life altering. 

    Like Robert D. Hales said:

    Won’t all of us, sometime, have reason to ask, “O God, where art thou?” Yes! When a spouse dies, a companion will wonder. When financial hardship befalls a family, a father will ask. When children wander from the path, a mother and father will cry out in sorrow. Yes, “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Then, in the dawn of our increased faith and understanding, we arise and choose to wait upon the Lord, saying, “Thy will be done.”

    All Roads Lead to the Mountain Tops

    by Taylor Berhow

    My favorite childhood memories are beautiful and vivid: exploring colorful canyons of the vast Utah wilderness, climbing tangled cottonwood trees, and roasting marshmallows over crackling, smoky fires. I remember playing Capture the Flag under a deep summer sky filled with shimmering stars, and the way the grass caused my body to itch and sting under the steamy water of a post-night-games, mother-mandated shower. I’ll never forget playing G.I. Joes and Lord of the Rings and Star Wars with my neighborhood friends, and on that note, my "first kiss" in 5th grade as I role-played Leia with a neighbor boy who role-played Han.

    If I think casually about my childhood, it flashes before my eyes in hues of rustic golds, deep forest greens, and enchanting ambers---rich colors that remind me of how blessed I was to grow up under the roof, with the family, in the place that I did. But if I spend time digging deep into the caverns of my mind and heart, I see things in darker shades. I see Christmas Eve's where my alcoholic father would stumble up the stairs at three in the morning. I’m heartbroken by the memory of lying in my bed with the thought that most children hoped to be awoken to the sound of reindeer hooves on the roof, not their inebriated father passing out on the kitchen floor. I can conjure up the very moment I learned my parents were divorcing: I remember the restaurant, the table, the day, the temperature, and how the air, once filled with the sweet and savory smells of our dinner-to-be, instantly became repulsive and thick and nauseating. I remember how sad and scared and angry I felt, and how I had no idea how much sadness and fear and anger I would carry around for years to come.

    If I spend time digging deep into the caverns of my mind and heart, I’m nearly paralyzed with the sad and confounding understanding of how truly unfair life tends to be. How unfair it is that my angel mother lived with an abusive alcoholic for more than 25 years. Or how unfair it is that most of the teenagers I work with will live their entire lives sincerely unsure of whether there is a single soul who truly loves them without condition. Or how unfair it is that 49 families will never again get to hold their daughters and sons and brothers and cousins who were shot in cold blood on Saturday night in Orlando. Yes, this world---treacherous and dark and manically cruel---is inexplicably unfair.

    I spent a year and a half of my life working as a field instructor for a therapeutic wilderness program. Essentially, I lived in the woods with a bunch of teenagers society deemed “troubled” and helped them to search for themselves. One night I couldn’t sleep, so I woke up and shuffled out of my sleeping bag onto a blanket of newly fallen snow. I walked into camp, sat down by a nearly diminished fire, and pulled out a New York Times article a friend had printed for me to read that week. In it, the author described the religious philosophy of Pure Land Buddhism and summed up her own experience with enlightenment in just a few words: “Life is suffering---and yet.”

    I’ve thought a lot about those words since then---about the "and yet's" in my life, the lives of the teenagers I work with, the lives of complete strangers. And yet.

    I cannot see or speak with my father after 6pm because he’s usually too drunk to carry on a productive conversation. And yet, I know that he loves me, which is more than millions of people on this earth can say with confidence about their own fathers.

    My mother married a man whose incapacity to love severely damaged her own ability to find and experience it, and yet, I’m confident she wouldn't trade those years for anything, because they brought her my brother and I.

    The teenage girls I work with are angry because they’re currently locked up in rehab against their will, and yet, they eat three meals each day that they didn’t have to pay for with drug or prostitution money.

    The world is a horrible place where people decide to blow up buildings, and mutilate women simply because they are women, and open-fire on elementary schools. And yet, the Red Cross holds blood drives, and Facebook releases “Stand with Orlando” picture filters, and the sun still rises every, single morning.

    If I spend time digging deep into the caverns of my mind and heart, I’m nearly paralyzed with the sad and confounding understanding of how truly unfair life tends to be. And yet.

    Cheryl Strayed once wrote that,

    “The best, sanest people on the planet know that life is long, that people both change and remain the same, that every last one of us will need to [mess] up and be forgiven . . . and that all roads eventually lead to the mountain top.”

    If I counted the days I spent as a child feeling afraid, or alone, or confused as to why I was born into the conditions I was born into, I’m quite confident they would outnumber the days filtered in gold and green and amber. And yet, I can barely remember them. Mostly, I remember my parents teaching me how much freedom and peace I can feel high on the tops of mountains. I remember deafening desert thunderstorms and Return of the Jedi and that I was taught to believe in God fervently and with great faith.

    Yes, this world---treacherous and dark and manically cruel---is inexplicably unfair. And yet, we’re going to be OK. Not because our brains have the truly amazing ability to forget about terrible things, like shootings and poverty and alcoholism. And certainly not because those terrible things are going away anytime soon. But we’re going to be OK, because OK is just about always where we end up. And the sun will rise, and we have each other, and God is real. And all roads eventually lead to the mountain tops.

    Disclaimer: I wouldn't wish my childhood on anyone; I also wouldn't trade it for any other. It was and continues to be an incredibly transformative experience filled with the challenges, lessons, and heartache I needed to build an intimate, sustaining relationship with my Heavenly Father. Because of my experiences growing up, my faith and testimony are rooted in adversity and the ability to overcome it with the love and compassion of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Additionally, it feels important to add that my dad is an amazing man whom I love, and after many years of introspection and a lot of hard work, I have a wonderful relationship with him that I cherish deeply.

     

    Find more from Taylor at RubyGirl.org

    Keep Fighting

    by Bre Lasley

    trigger warning: this story shares an account of an attack that may be difficult for some survivors to read.

    From the moment he came into my bedroom window to the moment he was holding his cold bladed hunting knife, which he used to stabbed me with minutes prior, I was in the depths of evil.

    I’ve grown up in the church. I’ll be the first one to admit I lived in the “Utah Mormon Bubble” probably until I boarded a plane to China soon after graduating high school. Upon arriving in China, I had many immediate exposures to real life or life outside of the “Utah Mormon Bubble.” I saw poverty I never knew existed. I saw rib cages protruding from the worn bodies of men, women, and even children. So much so, I could easily visualize their skeletons. This heartbreaking exposures were not consequences of evil, more so unfortunate consequences of uncontrollable circumstances. I’ll never forget the day I feel like I was exposed to evil. We were riding a crowded bus, which wasn’t an abnormality by any means, a woman we had been buying our produce from at the corner store for several months joined us. It was summertime which made any bus ride a hot, uncomfortable, sticky, stinky adventure. Hot, uncomfortable, sticky, and stinky are also all the adjectives in which are used to describe my personal hell. So, you can imagine the mood I was in.
    Trying my hardest to “fake it” and have a good attitude, I started a conversation with the woman we all loved who decided to travel with us. For her protection and privacy, I’ll call her “Sara.” I noticed Sara was wearing a blazer with a scarf. Just looking at her, I was ten times more uncomfortable. I asked her how she was still breathing underneath all of her layers and joking made a comment about wearing a scarf in the middle of summer. Sara bashfully responded, “for no reason.” I immediately felt a turning in my stomach. I knew something wasn’t right and so did my other friends who were sitting close to us. I’ll never forgetting waiting for some time to pass by so others would start new conversations, get distracted with their iPods, or fall deep into whatever book they were reading.
    As soon as I felt like no one was listening or paying attention to Sara and I, I nervously asked her, “Are you okay? I am worried about you.” She slowing untied her scarf and showed me her neck with her head looking down as if she were embarrassed. It was right then I saw evil. I saw a black and blue handprint whose long fingers wrapped around her small neck. Sara didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Chinese. Warm tears immediately filled my innocent “Utah Mormon Bubble” eyes. My heart felt like it was literally tearing. “Husband?” I said, while simultaneously pointing to my ring finger after pointing at her bruised neck. Miraculously, she understood and tenderly moved her head up and down. Anger, shock, and and unbelief took over my thoughts. Disgusted to lose the innocence of thinking these things only happened in movies, I said, “No okay.” There was nothing else I could do. From that moment on, my “Utah Mormon Bubble” started deflating. 

    In the years since my experience with Sara, there have been many other times my “Utah Mormon Bubble” has been poked at and caused to deflate even more so. However, nothing could have prepared me for the early morning hours of September 23, 2015 in MY new home that I shared with my little sister, Kayli. 

    Kayli had just gone down to her room to go to sleep. I was in my room sitting on my bed in my garments finishing up a work project on my computer. I remember I was listening to Paul Cardall on Spotify when I heard a male voice say, “Hey.” I got a little nervous and even thought to shut my window. Instead, I told myself not to freak myself out. Minutes later I heard the same voice, except this time it said, “Hey girl, I’m coming in.” There aren’t words to describe the feeling I had looking over to my right and just 6-7 feet away seeing the back of a huge shirtless man coming in my window. I felt evil. The same evil I felt seeing Sara’s neck times a million. (I’m not trying to take away from Sara’s experience with evil whatsoever, this feeling hit me harder because it was ME)


    “He’s going to rape me” was my first thought. “He’s going to get Kayli” was my second thought. I immediately jumped off my bed and ran towards the window thinking I’d be able to push him back out. However, by the time I got to him, he was already standing up. We met face to face. I put my shaking hands up repeating, “Please no! Please no!”

    He got more and more violent as the night went on. I remember pleading for heavenly help. Those prayers were immediately answered. I know angels were there that awful night helping me and Kayli fight this man and his evil intentions. Our fight continued for several minutes. He was a manipulator. He knew exactly what he was doing. He wanted nothing else but to kill and most likely rape us. As scared as I was that night, I never felt alone. 

    After violently kicking Kayli down the stairs, pushing me down the stairs, punching, kicking, elbowing, and even strangling my sister up against the same wall her head went through stopping her flying body from being kicked down the stairs, he knew we weren’t stopping. That’s when he pulled out his hunting knife. I’ll never forget grabbing the cold dirty blade and calmly telling Kayli, “He has a knife. We need more help. Go! Go get more help.” She didn’t want to leave me. I’ll never forget the sound of her voice when she said, “No! I’m not leaving you.” I have felt heartache before, but no other heartache will ever compare to the heartache I had of watching my little sister run up the stairs leaving me to find more help. As soon as she got to the top of the stair our evil attacker started stabbing me. Once again, I calmly and softly said, “Kayli he’s stabbing me. He’s stabbing me.” Then Kayli’s legs were gone. I could no longer see her. I knew she had gone looking for more help. 

    While she was running up and down our street screaming for help, I was in our dark basement on the cold cement laundry room floor being stabbed. I knew I was going to die within minutes. After he stabbed me, where he knew would quickly kill me, he stood up with the bloody blade pointing towards me while his bald head looked over his left shoulder. “Now I’m going to get your little sister.” He laughed as if what he had done and what he was about to do was so pleasing and gratifying. There was no way I was going to let him walk up the same stairs Kayli ran up for help. With angels, I was able to jump up and tackle the 6’2” monster. 

    Our fight continued. Now kneeling on my elbows with his left hand holding down my forehead, he raised his long right arm up above his bald head with the blade point to my chest. He quickly and forcefully dropped his right hand trying to stab me in the chest. It was then I felt something familiar. It wasn’t a spiritual experience in the moment by any means, but I knew I was being protected. I looked as the blade of his knife came down directly over my chest and seeing it be stopped by something. A “shield” is the only way I know how to describe it. He tried 5-6 times with the same result. With built up anger in his scariest voice he yelled, “Why isn’t this working?... Fine! I’ll stab you in the head.” Instead of feeling a “shield,” I felt his bony knuckles graze the side of my head. The bloody blade stabbed the suitcase my head was on two times. 

    After realizing that wasn’t going to work we fought some more. We ended up sitting on the cold cement floor up against my washer. He had the knife in his right hand with the cold blade up against my throat. His right arm was flexed as he prepared to slit my throat, once and for all ending my life. His left arm was wrapped around the top of my body. I could feel his soft, sweaty, ripped chest up against my back as he lifted both of his long heavy legs over mine crossing them to insure no movement on my part. “You can kill me just please don’t kill my sister.” I repeated as I was thinking of never seeing my family again. I could feel the warm tears, just like the tears I felt in China, feel my no longer innocent eyes. “Why would he do this to me?” “I don’t deserve this.” The thought of “I’m never going to see Kayli again” snowballed into, “I’m never going to see my mom, dad, sisters, brother, brother in law, nephew or anyone else again” and for no reason. My attacker was joyfully taking my life, my dreams, my potential, my goals, my future, my everything away from me and for NO reason. I was wrapped in the arms & legs of evil. I have never felt so disgusted, so scared, or so violated. 

    I felt his evil lips whisper against my ear as he cowardly hid his head behind mine whisper, “I’m going to kill you.” Then I heard the voice of my earthly angel, SLCP Officer Ben Hone say, “Salt Lake City Police Department drop the knife.” I’ll never forget seeing his eyes and immediately feeling safe. Then I realized something, I was in the arms of evil as a complete stranger was violently trying to take my life. While, looking at another complete stranger probably ten feet away from me risk his life to save mine. That’s exactly what he did. Officer Ben Hone took a single shot taking my attacker’s life and saving mine. I felt my attacker die. I heard the knife drop. My hair flew up as the bullet hit my attacker literally an inch away from my face. I felt the weight of his dead arms and legs press against my body. I felt evil leave. I felt pure goodness. I felt pure love. I felt the reality of the sacrifice Officer Hone made to save me. I felt safe. 

    In three days it will be seven months since the attack. I went to church therapy where I was told to “Let the Atonement take it.” While I am grateful the church offers therapy and I know it has helped hundreds of people as a good needed resource “Let the Atonement take it.” was not what I was looking for or needed weeks after the attack. I have a testimony of Our Savior, more than ever now than before. I knew the Atonement was what was going to eventually heal me, but I needed/need to do my part before handing it over. I wanted to find ways to help me deal with the fear, anxiety, depression, and low self worth before I handed “it” over to the Savior’s Atonement. If “Faith without works is dead.” how does simply handing it over work? It doesn’t (at least not for me). I believe and have learned through my experience, in order for the Atonement to take whatever our fight is, we have to 1. Believe it can. 2. Do whatever we can do to get to a healthy understanding mental place where we know how to handle triggers, hard days, and real feelings. 3. Work hard and use resources available to help us individually. 4. THEN have the Atonement help us endure. 

    I was told several times, “Go back to the temple and you’ll heal so much faster.” Please don’t take any of this in the wrong way, I full heartedly believe in Our Savior, His Restored Gospel, and in the power and blessings that come from living a temple worthy life. I know the temple is the House of the Lord. I know the covenants made are the most important covenants one can ever make with real heavenly binds and blessings. I love the temple and will always strive to live worthily to visit often. That being said, I have to be honest. The first time I went back to the temple after the attack, I felt something I had never felt before. I felt the reality of Satan and his power and was scared. I have never been “scared” in the temple before. I knew it was solely because weeks prior I had experience pure evil. While sitting there I was reminded of my attacker and was so scared, I wanted to stand up and leave. I couldn’t stand knowing the reality of evil and how Satan’s power was used to force so much change into my life because of hold he had on my attacker and the influence he had on my attacker’s choices. 

    For months I was too scared/nervous to attend the temple, because I didn’t want to be reminded of the evilness I witnessed on September 23rd. After the months passed, I realized I was putting my fear of Satan before my faith in Christ. As soon as I realized what I was unintentionally doing, I went back and had a completely different experience. I was reminded of the protecting power of the covenants we make. I was reminded of Heavenly Father’s constant effort to show His children His love in more ways than one. I was reminded of the all-encompassing love and power the atonement offers everyone, even my attacker. I realized since the time of Adam and Eve, all of us are living (in a way) close to evil as well as close to righteousness/goodness. 

    At times we will feel inadequate or even guilty for not being the perfect cookie cutter Mormon. I know I felt that way when I was too nervous to attend the temple or when I was ticked leaving my therapist’s room after she told me the reason I was struggling was because, “[I] wasn’t letting the atonement take it over.” Since then, I know she meant well and I was unsure how to communicate my feelings with her. We all know Peter wasn’t the best of the best and was definitely not the “cookie cutter” apostle. But, he continuously tried. When he was in the midst of the terrible storm on the same boat as all the other apostles when they all saw Christ, it was Peter who physically showed his faith by getting out of the boat to walk towards Christ. The other apostles had faith. Infact their faith was so great they recognized the Savior from far away, but it was Peter who left the boat. Did he lose faith on the way? A little. Don’t we all? That’s not the part that mattered. What mattered is the fact he tried and kept trying. When he started to sink, he didn’t look anywhere else, but towards the Savior as he cried for help. That’s when the Savior IMMEDIATELY stretched forth his hand and saved him. He will do the same for you as you keep trying. YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT. 

    I have learned throughout my healing, Our Savior needs to be my focus. As I work hard doing whatever I need to do to get better, if I’m focusing on Him and if I continue to get to know Him so He is always recognizable, I will be okay. 

    He is real. I know the familiar feeling I had that terrible night was no one else, but my Savior protecting me. I know the blessings from trying our best to live the covenants we make are life saving. 


    Brigham Young said, “If you have fears, tell them to go to hell. That’s where they’re from.” I know your fears are different than mine, but it doesn’t make them less scary. Have more faith in Our Savior than fear in your fight. Don’t let others opinions or actions determine who you are. Remember you are a daughter/son of the most loving powerful Heavenly King. 

    Keep Fighting, 

    Bre

    Mother's Week

    OUR WEEK

    I’m almost 27 and I’m very much not a mom. So why do I care about Mother’s Day? I care about Mother’s Day because of what the Spirit taught me while studying this talk:

    Are We Not All Mothers? by Sister Sheri L. Dew

    These impressions from the Spirit help me understand that I am very much a mother. My kids just aren’t here yet. This understanding influences so many aspects of my everyday. I have no idea what my little kid spirits are doing right now, but I like to think they may be occasionally semi-interested in what their mom is up to. The idea that my little kiddos may be watching motivates me to read my scriptures, attend the temple, and live a happy good life. Now I'm FAAARRRR from prefect, so I also have many opportunities to be an example of repentance and using the Atonement. I hope my example will help those little spirits be just the tiniest bit more prepared when it’s finally their turn on Earth. (Disclaimer: I'm well aware this isn't doctrine. However, I figure if it helps me be a good girl, Heavenly Father probably isn't too worried about it.)

    In Sister Neill F. Marriott’s recent talk “What Shall We Do?” she taught:

    Mothers literally make room in their bodies to nurture an unborn baby—and hopefully a place in their hearts as they raise them—but nurturing is not limited to bearing children. Eve was called a “mother” before she had children.4 I believe that “to mother” means “to give life.” Think of the many ways you give life. It could mean giving emotional life to the hopeless or spiritual life to the doubter. With the help of the Holy Ghost, we can create an emotionally healing place for the discriminated against, the rejected, and the stranger. In these tender yet powerful ways, we build the kingdom of God. Sisters, all of us came to earth with these life-giving, nurturing, maternal gifts because that is God’s plan.

    If young men start fulfilling Priesthood responsibilities at the early age of 12, shouldn’t we start magnifying our own duties around the same time? Obviously if we define motherhood as strictly maternity, you would all think I’m crazy. However, Sister Dew teaches "Motherhood is more than bearing children. It is the essence of who we are as women." As a single woman trying to fully take part in the Gospel of Jesus Christ THIS IS REALLY GOOD NEWS! Increasing my initial understanding of motherhood means my progression or ability to fulfill my divine role isn’t on hold. There is so much I can and should be doing right now, bare ring finger and all, to help children of God, myself included, return back to Heavenly Father.

    Make plans to read Sister Dew’s talk soon. While you’re at it, revisit Sister Marriott’s, too. These talks are a great way to refine your focus as you consider your role in the Gospel as a daughter of God.  They also help you understand my reasoning behind celebrating Motherhood ALL WEEK LONG!

    While I'm excited about lots of things coming your way this week, I'm ESPECIALLY excited about the GIVEAWAY. This giveaway is going to be a little different. After pondering these two talks, on Wednesday, I'm going to invite you to enter the Q.NOOR giveaway not for yourself, but for someone who has helped you better understand what it means to be a mother. As taught in the talks, maternity and marital status are not prerequisites to qualify. More details will come on Wednesday, but start thinking now about a woman you would like to thank for the role she has played in your process of becoming like Christ.