Sometimes as the emotional pain of this disorder begins to enter my heart, I become overwhelmed and feel incredibly alone knowing that, even if I try my best to explain what it feels like, no one can really know or understand.  It's paralyzing and so frightening.  It's like this terrifying nightmare of facing something so difficult and painful, but suddenly not being able to talk or make sense of it, almost not even being able to think clearly enough to utter a simple prayer asking for help.  And then the fear intensifies and multiplies every second until it literally seems unbearable, like it is engulfing me.

Tonight, this happened.  I'm not sure what started it, but all of a sudden, I felt like I could hardly breath.  My emotional heart hurt, and I didn't know what to do.  I tried praying, but nothing came out.  I knew God could decipher the thoughts and feelings of my broken mind, but I was so scared.  I couldn't even think clearly enough to ask Him to help me.  With thoughts swirling around in my mind so quickly and my heart wishing that it could find relief in any way possible, I texted a friend asking her to pray for me.  I'm so blessed to have friends in Idaho who are an hour behind, so they have a greater chance of still being awake even when it's late at night.

I felt so desperate.  I just needed someone to pray for me.  She quickly texted back, and a bit of the intensity lifted knowing that someone was praying the words that I wanted to say but couldn't.  We continued texting back and forth as I tried to distract myself from the awful feelings knowing that I could be up all night facing them, when suddenly, the most beautiful, relieving, calming feeling of peace washed over me.  I didn't feel alone or afraid anymore, I didn't feel overwhelmed about how I was going to manage to get up in the morning, and I didn't feel like my heart was heavy with sorrow.  All of that was lifted.  And in its place was peace.

It breaks my heart knowing that this nightmare will continue to visit over and over again, but my heart feels so much JOY in knowing that the feelings of peace that replace the sorrow, terror, and fear will wash over me time and time again.  Sometimes it takes a long time for the peace to come, but it always does.  Always.

In some ways, I am very blessed to get to go through this, because the greater the struggle I have, the more meaningful and powerful the peace when it comes.  It's like I get to experience these mighty miracles nearly every week as I fight to survive and find joy through this indescribable pain.  I get to feel firsthand the peace of God that passes all understanding, the peace that allows my heart to find joy through my brokenness.  I'm sure I will always wish that this wasn't a reality in my life, but right now, I truly feel blessed to see God's hand working so intimately in my life in my desperate moments of need.

That We Might Have Joy: Sarah's Story

When I was about 10 years old, my parents got divorced. From then on, my childhood consisted of flying back and forth to spend time with each parent, splitting up holidays, and trying to avoid “picking sides.” My dad lived on the west coast, and my mom lived in Missouri. I lived with my mom up until the summer after my eighth grade year. It was then that I decided I wanted to try out living with my dad. I had friends where he was, and it was nice to have a fresh start. It worked out really well... until the middle of my sophomore year. I’m not going to go into very much detail, because to be completely honest, it’s painful to revisit those years. I’ve moved on, and it’s not fun to go back there. It was a living hell. I ended up hating my mom. Don’t worry, she knows how I felt back then, and we’ve had some good chats about it since. But to make a long story short, my dad was married to a woman, she started telling lies about my dad, my mom got word and believed said lies, and I got stuck in the middle. I struggled a lot during that time of my life. I felt like I lost everything. I questioned a lot of things-- things I knew to be true, relationships, and just life in general. I didn’t think there was any way to be happy.

It was an EFY counselor that helped me realize that Heavenly Father loves me, cares about me, and hears my prayers, and that was what helped me slip out of my depressive state. I was 15. My mom sent me to EFY thinking it would help me. It did, but at the time I was not about to admit that to her. While I was there, I got word that my grandpa was not doing so hot and probably didn’t have much time left. I wasn’t very close to my grandpa, but for some reason, I was struggling with that. My counselor was talking to me the night I found out trying to comfort me. I can’t remember what exactly happened that night so many years ago, but I will never forget the feelings that I had. It was as if Heavenly Father Himself had wrapped His arms around me and was giving me a hug, telling me that everything would be okay. I knew that the feeling wasn’t just referring to my grandpa’s situation. I knew that the Spirit was comforting me in all the aspects of my life at that time, including everything that was going on with my mom. That feeling was so strong that it was undeniable that it came from God. I will never forget it. I have felt that feeling so many other times in my life since as well.

Fast forward to now… I can look back on those experiences I had in my teenage years and know that I would not be the person I am right now had I not gone through that. I’ve had many struggles. I still, even to this day, have fears of marriage and worry about ever being in any position where my kids or anyone I love is put through anything like that. I’ve struggled with the thought of getting married, then finding out the man I married is not the man I thought he was. I’ve struggled with the thought of never getting married at all. I’ve struggled with the unintentional pressure that people have put on me when it comes to the topic of marriage. I’ve come so close more times than I would like to admit to “settling.” I’m not perfect, but I know what my weaknesses are. I’ve been working on them. That’s all that is really asked of us-- that we try our hardest.

I had a dream a few weeks back where a really good friend that I haven’t seen in years was asking me how I deal with everything. I don’t remember what specifically we were talking about, but I remember replying to their inquiry with, “I just choose to be happy.” And it’s as simple as that! I’ve had to learn this over and over in my life that being happy is an internal choice every single moment of every single day. Yeah, crappy things happen all the time to people, but if you choose to focus on the good things and stay positive, your life is so much better! And not only that, but you attract people that are also happy, and life is so much better!

Another thing that has helped me find joy is the atonement of Jesus Christ. It was definitely not the easiest thing to not only forgive my mom, but to forgive other people that were involved in that situation. But I know, through the power of prayer, that Jesus Christ suffered for me. He suffered for everyone that has ever sinned or done wrong. And the amazing thing about the atonement is that it doesn’t just cover our sins. It covers our grief, it covers our loneliness, it covers our hurt and our pain, it covers every single thing that we have and will ever go through! Christ know us perfectly. He is the one that helped me get through that hard time in my life, He is the one that has helped me find peace through forgiveness, and He is the one that helps me fight my fears every single day!


Moments of JOY

So much has happened since I last wrote.  Sometimes when the darkness is so intense and the pain in my heart and mind so real, I wonder if I've lied and it's not really possible to find joy in everything like I say it is.  I wonder if I've asked for stories of finding joy and pretended to be on my own joyful journey, when really I'm just a hypocrite.  It's in these moments of pervasive, all-encompassing darkness that I feel completely lost and simply hold on until even a bit of light returns.  In these moments, I can't comprehend that anything but darkness exists, and the thought of never seeing light again feels so real and overwhelming.  But I wait, gripping onto anything that tangibly represents light, and try to hope that just surviving counts for something until the worst of the pain passes.

The pain I experienced these last few days doesn't have adequate words of description or explanation.  Just darkness.  So. Much. Darkness.  But every time I thought it was not possible for my fragile heart to endure any more of this intense refining fire, something would happen that would lift me up just enough to keep me going, just enough to help me know that joy was still within my reach.

--One day, it was a friend who took the time to talk to me on the phone.  I finally found the courage to reach out and ask for help, and this kind friend was there, ready to listen and to help me know that everything was somehow going to be alright.  She helped me find the courage to reach out for more help and reaffirmed to me that I am loved.

--The next day, it was another friend, a friend who simply said, "I'm sorry you're struggling" and let me explain once again the pain that was swallowing me.  She didn't try to tell me how to fix it, but just listened and felt my pain with me.

--That same day, it was my husband, the wonderful man God has given me, who got home from working all day to find the dishes, laundry, and dinner undone and a terribly messy house with his wife curled up in bed, where I had been for the last 4 hours crying, and patiently listened while I explained how I didn't know how to go on.  As I repeated over and over again that he deserved better and that I couldn't keep moving forward, he repeated over and over again how much he loves me, brokenness and all.  I apologized for taking too much time to crochet instead of serving him and working hard around the house.  He kindly, gently, and genuinely expressed that it's okay because it helps me hold on and find joy, and he wants that for me.  How I ended up marrying a man who is so patient and understanding of my struggles is beyond me.  He is everything I need and more.

--Another day, it was a friend who wrote a post on her blog with me in mind, a post in response to my last post, all about her struggles and how it's okay to not be okay.  Her light, bravery, and example gave me the strength to want to keep fighting, which is sometimes the hardest part of my battle.

--God continually brought to my remembrance something that happened last week that could help me remember that everything hadn't always been so dark.  Last Wednesday, I had 6 things planned for the day, and for one reason or another, each of the 6 things ended up being cancelled.  Normally, this would have been way too much for my mind to handle, and I would have spent the next few days trying to get back up from even one of these things changing.  But that time, I was just fine.  It didn't even bother me at all.  Knowing that this had only happened one week before, I could hold onto the hope that my currently broken brain would find peace again.

--Yesterday, while sitting around the dinner table, my husband told me about a conversation he had with his co-workers earlier that day.  One guy started talking about his neighbor with a mental illness and how she should be taken away and put in an institution.  My husband could have sat back and listened to this conversation, not saying a word, but he didn't.  Instead, he educated them about mental illness and the exhausting process it takes to find the right medication to help.  He shared some of my experiences and quickly softened the hearts of his co-workers toward those struggling with these challenges.  This really lifted my heart knowing that my husband was willing to defend me and all others who face difficult mental illnesses to anyone who just didn't understand because they hadn't experienced it for themselves or with a loved one.

Although things are not quite back to normal yet (I'm not even sure what normal is for me anymore), things are not completely dark and hopeless like they were for a few days either.  I once again believe with all my heart that it is possible to find joy in all things, even in the darkest of situations, and that even when things seem completely hopeless, there is always hope.

Image result for quotes about joy


7 Months Later...

These last couple of weeks, I have pulled back a lot.  I haven't wanted to share anything on here or with anyone in person.  When someone asks how I'm doing, I just say that I'm fine, even though I'm not.  I smile in front of everyone and pretend that everything is better, but it's not.

Some days, I tell myself that this is my new normal, so I can't keep asking for help 7 months later.  Some days, I'm simply too tired to ask for help, because I'd rather just sleep until it's better.  Some days, I wish someone knew how hard it is, but I can't bring myself to tell anyone.  It's just too much and too hard.  So I hold it in every day.  I usually don't even cry anymore.  I hold everything in and hope that it will go away if I don't acknowledge it.

I know this isn't healthy.  I know asking for help doesn't expire and that I have wonderful friends who would drop anything to come help me.  I know it's okay to cry and not to be alright.  I know all of these things, but it doesn't change what I do.

I've never felt more alone in my life than I have the last few weeks.  It's not anyone's fault but my own.  I just don't know how to handle something that isn't short-term, something that doesn't resolve itself right away or in the near future, something that is long and hard and emotional and tiring, something that requires asking for help and crying in front of people over and over and over again.

Lately, I have to constantly remind myself that this blog is not dumb or annoying to people, and if it is, that they can just scroll past the links if they don't want to read what I write.  I have to remind myself that this is real and that what I write is real, not someone asking for attention or sympathy.  I have to remember that people need vulnerability and honesty, especially people walking the same road, so it's okay if my life is not perfectly wrapped up and tied with a bow yet, even 7 months later.

I guess I've just hit a really rough patch of having to learn how to live with something that may never get fully better or may require me receiving help often.  How I feel right now will get better, and hopefully I can navigate through this and help someone else, but until then, I will do my best to share when I feel like I can share and pull back when I need some of my own space.

I CAN FIND JOY EVEN THROUGH THIS!  (I say this to myself about 10,000 times a day right now)


That We Might Have Joy: Natalie's Story

Shantelle reached out to me a long time ago, asking if I would be willing to share my story. I am a teacher, a coach, and in grad school, so that was my excuse for not doing it at the time. I think the real reason: it wasn't time. 

Long story short:  I am 29 years old, single, never married, with zero kids.  (For the LONG story, you can go HERE)

And most important: my life never has, and probably never will, work out the way I envision or plan it. Ever.

Now being single and not having kids, is not for not wanting those things or not trying.  They are by far the deepest desires of my heart.  And there is always a part of me that feels incomplete or unfulfilled. There’s a piece of me that is missing.  So here is how I find joy in the journey while feeling like a partial version of myself.

My prescription seems simple, but can be difficult to maintain.

1.       Trust Heavenly Father completely.
2.       Forget myself and serve others.
3.       Count my blessings.

1.       Trust Heavenly Father completely.
   This has taken me over 25 years to master.  Through countless priesthood blessings I have received, and many tender mercies I’ve recognized, I have finally figured out that Heavenly Father is aware of me.  That He knows me, loves me, has high expectations for me, and that He has a plan for me.  As I have grown in my relationship with Him, I have finally been able to give Him my trust.  I am no longer worried if everything will work out or not.  I know it will.  After countless things not working out the way I want them, I have learned that He knows what really is best for me and I trust that.  I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am going to receive all the things I have been promised, as I continue to be obedient and do my best at holding up my end of the deal.  Life has gotten so much happier since FINALLY learning and accepting that.  I highly recommend it to anyone.  And will gladly share the process if anyone is unsure how to get there.
2.       Forget myself or use myself to serve others.
   This is always the norm response when it comes to feeling happier and finding joy.  I am pretty busy and cannot physically serve a lot of people.  But I have been able to find joy in the journey as I recognize that the things I am learning along the way are for the benefit and learning of those with whom I come in contact.  I love listening to others about their hardships.  And I love sharing the lessons I’ve learned with them.  No, it doesn’t always solve their problem…But it helps so much when you know there is someone there who can empathize, understand, or just let you be you with whatever you are struggling with.  And I pride myself in having a judge-free zone, ALWAYS.  Again, it makes life so much happier when other people can feel like themselves with you.  And it makes it easier for you to feel like you can be yourself around others. 
3.       Count my blessings.
   This one is pretty self-explanatory.  I do want to share some of my blessings that I’ve counted over the past few years:
    I have been able to travel and take part in the lives of my nieces and nephews.
    I have been able to explore the world and see things others may never get an opportunity to see.
    If someone ever needs anything, I can always drop what I am doing to serve them.
    I have a career.
    I’ve been able to work on a Master's Degree without too many interruptions.
    I’ve been able to decide what I want to do with my life and work toward those goals.
    I have been able to draw closer to most of my family members.
    I have drawn so much closer to Heavenly Father
    I have become more aware of my mental health.
    I have learned how to travel the uneasy waters of emotional and mental health.
    I have been able to serve so many people
    I have served a mission.
    I have met people who have impacted my life for the better.
    I am able to sit and take in all of General Conference.
    I have grown in my faith.
    I am financially independent.
    I can handle all medical issues and insurance questions.
    I can be an adult and do it successfully.
    I have formed opinions and views that are mine. 
    I have been filing away stories and learning opportunities for future Little Natalies that may grace the world with their presence.
    I have become happy and proud with who I am as a person and am at peace with the choices I make. 

[Side Bar: Please, please as a single woman, I urge anyone that knows singles to stop treating them as a sub citizen in society.  We are human beings, there is nothing wrong with us, and we really are trying.  We know you mean well, but our marital status does not define us.  Who we are as people and what we accomplish in our daily lives does. We are aware of our status and we are doing the best we know how.]

I am still single.  I am still childless.  I still feel like a part of me is incomplete. This is not one of those posts where the time and patience I’ve put into this journey has brought a fruitful “happy ending.”  There are still days where I hurt and ache so badly that I feel like I’m going to break into pieces again.  There are still days where joy is hard to grasp and I feel myself falling into the bottomless pit of pain and hopelessness.  But I survive.  I find joy in the journey and grasp as tightly as I can to the truth that Heavenly Father loves me and His plan will work out in the end. 

Because I am a daughter of Heavenly Father and that makes me pretty great. 



I'm not sure that a low after a high will ever be any less devastating.  When I'm on the high, I'm always sure that I will handle the low better than I have in the past, that I'll suddenly be more faithful and patient this time around, but that has yet to happen.  Instead, I still just endure and wait and pray for it to go away, all while wondering if everyone else could handle this so much better than I do.

But as I sit here and can hardly see the screen through my wet eyes, I repeat the same thing that I repeat to myself nearly every week when this happens-- the light will come again, it's so worth it to hold on, don't give up, you are loved, you are needed, you're doing better than you think you are.

I have nothing wise or profound to say, no advice or things I've learned, only the simple faith that this will pass, somehow I'll keep growing stronger, and someday I'll see that wonderful light again.  Until then, I'm holding on and trying to work on cultivating true patience, something that will most likely take a whole eternity to master.


Happy Half Birthday Project!

It has been 6 months since I started my "That We Might Have Joy" project, and it has changed my life forever.

These are the things I've learned so far:
  • Everyone struggles with something, even though our struggles may be very different and we may seem to have it all together on the outside.
  • Finding joy is a difficulty everyone faces, and yet, it is possible to find joy in every circumstance.
  • Sharing our stories of triumph over struggle helps others to find joy and strength through their own trials.
  • We are stronger than we ever knew possible, and we find our strength when we go through difficult things.
  • We can do hard things!  Especially when we are doing hard things together.
Of course, the number of people reading these stories means nothing as far as how inspiring and uplifting they are compared to others, but I wanted to share the Top 10 Most-Read Stories, in case some people haven't been able to read all of them and want to go back to read some of the most-read ones.  

  1. Julianne's Story-- finding joy through the death of her two year old son who was hit by a car
  2. Rachel's Story-- finding joy through putting her baby up for adoption
  3. Tiffany's Story-- finding joy through the death of her two year old son who drowned in the washing machine
  4. Marion's Story-- finding joy through the death of her baby girl who was shaken by her husband
  5. Emalee's Story-- finding joy through postpartum anxiety
  6. Olivia's Story-- finding joy through miscarriage
  7. Britt's Story-- finding joy through adoption (the other side of Rachel's story)
  8. Cathy's Story-- finding joy through infertility and adoption
  9. Lindsay's Story-- finding joy through infertility
  10. April's Story-- finding joy through the death of her premature daughter

P.S.  Yesterday was a day for the books!  I felt like myself for an entire day!!!!  I wanted to do things and to be productive.  I felt so much love and other good, positive emotions.  I remembered that I used to make to do lists (haven't done that in 7 months), and I wanted to make one, because I actually wanted to fit more into my day.  I got quite a bit done during the day and didn't feel overwhelmed about any of it.  I acted silly and weird with my husband (always a sign that things are going well).  I remembered how journal writing used to be a thing for me, and I wanted to start doing that again soon.  I wanted to take my medicine (huge thing!!!), because I felt great hope that life can be good again, and I will want to experience it.  I made a plan for baking with my daughter this week, something we have not done in months.  I felt like I truly love being a mom and want to be the best mom I can be.  I felt happy-- real, genuine happiness.  Now, I know it will be a long time before I can get back to where I was, because I have lots of healing/recovering to do and I have to take things slow, but yesterday was a breath of fresh air in helping me realize that I will get there again.  I'm determined to overcome this monster, and I really believe that will happen.


Thom's Story

Not all mothers are created equal.

This isn’t a set up to tell you my mama is better than your mama. It’s an intro to a long post discussing the reality that mothering isn’t the same for all women - my mother being case in point.

I was young so I don’t remember if it was 1978 or 1979 when my mother had a “nervous breakdown”. She was diagnosed with manic depression. It is more commonly referred to today as bipolar disorder. Since then, she’s struggled to fill the traditional role of what a mother is “supposed to be” as she’s battled this mental illness.

As a result of her challenges with bipolar disorder, our family situation has been unique to say the least. She’s never been able to truly manage her mental illness. Because of this, mama didn’t do things that many “traditional” mothers did. She just couldn’t. And as a child, I struggled with this. I wondered why my mama wasn’t like everyone else’s. She didn’t drive me to soccer practice or make little star-shaped sandwiches for my lunch. Although, I’m sure she wanted to. She didn’t help me pick my homecoming date’s corsage or make sure I practiced the piano. That wasn’t how she functioned. I’m not going to lie - I didn’t accept the limitations of her illness and hospitalizations in my youth. It was hard for me to see how my mama was versus how everyone else’s mothers were. For years I longed to have a different type of mother.

But one day, my heart changed.

I remember clearly maybe 15 years ago driving mama to a mental health facility after she had an episode. When things got out of control for her, it was best to take her to the psychiatric unit to get her out of potentially dangerous situations at home and to alter her medications to get her functional again. On this particular drive, I witnessed before my very eyes how her mind succumbed to the effects of the chemical imbalance in her brain. It was as if she became a different person right before my eyes - a product of her disease. In that moment, God came. He helped me know that my mother wasn’t this illness. Unfortunately she was suffering the effects of her mortal condition. She was not the person bipolar disorder made her appear to be. In an instant, I saw her in a different light. I saw the beauty of her soul. God gave me a glimpse of who she was before the illness and who she was inside despite the illness. And in that moment, I knew one thing for sure - my mother loved me. She has always loved my sister and I with all the capacity she can love as our mother.

Now, when I look back on the hard times we endured as a family, I realize the one constant that the disorder has never taken away is my mother’s love. Although she still struggles today, she is managing the best she can.

I take this day, Mother’s Day 2017, to salute all the mothers who struggle to be the type of mother they envisioned themselves being. I extend an arm of understanding to all the children who feel like their mother wasn't what they wanted them to be.

Not all mothers are created equal. But Laura Emma Reed is the best mother for me!

Love you, mama!


That We Might Have Joy: Sadee's Story

My name is Sadee Carney. I am a mom of two crazy little kids with one on the way. This is my story.

My husband and I were in a hard spot this time last year with a recent job loss after 4 years of diligent service. We didn't know what our next step was, and as my husband searched for jobs, I attended the temple one day. I asked if we were meant to add any other children to our family and let God know that we were willing to do His will. Well, I kept getting strong promptings every time I went that we needed to have a baby. I knew it wouldn't take us long because we have been very fortunate to be so fertile. I was so scared. We couldn't even pay our rent, let alone add another baby to the mix.

But we were diligent and decided to go forward with this new trial. This was just the beginning. When we got pregnant, my husband had been accepted into school and had a job that could work along with his school schedule. BUT, we were still struggling to pay our bills. So, we tried another job. This job was the complete opposite of what we were looking for. Like, he had a desk job at a tech company for four years and all the sudden we were looking at manual labor working in oil business. Plus it was a cross country move! We felt like it was the right move and everything lined up for us to move within a week. My husband left first, and we joined him a month later.

By this time we were getting close to finding out what we were having. Mind you, not a soul knew we were pregnant (I was lucky and didn't have morning sickness or really show at all until I hit 20 weeks, but that was well after we had moved from all family and support). We went in to meet our new doctor, and we did the basic overview of this pregnancy. We then went in for our anatomy scan, when we learned the devastating news. Our baby girl had a fatal diagnosis of anencephaly. Anencephaly is where the brain and skull do not fully form, meaning that she would not be a viable baby. We also learned, along with anencephaly, she had other genetic issues that we could have been at fault for. My husband immediately told me that this pregnancy was still a trial of our faith. I was so....scared, sad, guilt-ridden....you name it. How, if we were listening to the Lord and doing what he had asked, would He allow this to happen?

I immediately started talking to moms on Facebook and looking for support groups. There are two women that really stuck out. One had already lost her son to something else, and the other was a mom of one, soon to be two, angels. Her little girl had the same diagnosis, and she was much further along. I saw that, even through all this hardship, she was so full of light! She is religious but not LDS, and she had such a strong light about her that I wanted to befriend her so I could feel that warmth.

We had a ton of family and friends and strangers praying for us, and those prayers brought such comfort during the hard days, the days I didn't feel like I could even get out of bed or see because my eyes were so tear-stained.

I had moments of joy though. I knew that my daughter was so special that she didn't need to stay on this Earth long to gain a spot in the celestial kingdom. The first mom I mentioned helped me with the eternal perspective on things. She mentioned that our sweet babies were already so perfect, and as parents, our goal is to raise our children so they can obtain a celestial being. How great it is to already have one waiting there! This has helped me on my hardest days, because I have come so close to angels who are building me up daily, holding my hand, and walking me through this. I am so important and special, because my daughter chose our family. She chose me to be her mother and to carry her so she could gain a body. That is all she needs, and then she will be on the other side waiting for us to come be with her!

Through such sadness and difficulty with going through loss, there is joy. The gospel brings me joy in knowing that this life is so short, and this is not the end. We will get to raise our daughter; we just need to be worthy. So in a sense, it makes the celestial kingdom more tangible.

I find joy in my two kids, the sensitive sweet spirits they are, and the knowledge they have about the gospel. We have really good days and then we have hard ones. On the hard ones, they let me know how much they love me with their funny personalities and tender hugs and kisses, wanting to just sit and snuggle and talk to their little sister. They know that she is going to die, but they also know that Jesus will take care of our little lamb just like the the picture by Greg Olsen.

I am a firm believer in the ripple affect. I find such joy when I hear how Eva's journey has helped another family come closer into the gospel. My cousin recently told me that she has had such a strong desire since Eva's diagnosis to get herself and her family ready to have a temple/celestial marriage because she doesn't want to leave this world and not be sealed to them.

So yes, this journey has been hard, but as I approach my due date and prepare to say goodbye to our sweet little girl, I know that goodbye isn't forever. Weatherford Clayton spoke about death on the Saturday morning General Conference session this past April, and it hit me hard. I will get to witness such a special sweet peace as we say goodbye to this world and as angels welcome her into heaven. It's hard to say that I look forward to that day, but I do. I want to feel that my baby won't hurt. She won't be in pain, and she will be welcomed by the family that have been walking me through all these hard times. I know that my Great Grandma Eva has been with me during all the moments, and she will be there for our sweet little Eva to welcome her home. And Jesus will be there to take care of her just like her big sister says.

Heavenly Father does not send us trials to be mean or cruel, because honestly, this is a hard trial, and it is unfair anybody has to endure child loss. He does this to strengthen us and make us better, so we can return to Him. So I can return to my daughter and raise her. I never regret this decision of getting pregnant and carrying her to term, because I know she is forever mine, and there is no 'death do us part'. That is Joy. So here I am struggling to say I am the mom of three beautiful children, but I think it is so joyous to know that Eva has a mission, and to know that her mission isn't just on the other side. It is on this side as well. I have had many people tell me how Eva has changed their life for the better as well. To me, that is joy.

My name is Sadee Carney and I am a mom of THREE beautiful children.

To read more of Sadee's story, click HERE.


My Slow-Leaking Hole

After having a few days of light, I feel like I get a slow-leaking hole, a hole that drains my light little by little until something pops and the remaining light leaves at once.  Usually that "something" is an event, not a huge event that would warrant a pop, but an event nonetheless.  Sometimes it's a small change in plans that my broken brain just can't handle, a bit of criticism that I can't seem to get out of my mind, or the realization that I'm just not keeping up with everything I should be doing.

These last few days have been slow-leaking days.  I can tell that the light is leaving, and something will make my hole pop soon, but it hasn't happened yet.  I can feel the darkness slowly creeping in and filling the places that were once completely occupied with light.

For now, I'm holding strong and trying not to let myself slip into that deep dark hole, but I know I can only keep it up for so long.  I'm still appreciating the light and trying to soak up every last bit of it, but I know it is leaving.  No matter how much I try not to think about it, I can't help but worry about what is coming next.  Will it be like last time?  Will I want nothing more for myself than to be gone forever?  Will I remember that light exists, that I've had light in my life before, and that the light will come again?  Will I remember to just hold on?

There is no saying what is to come or how deep the darkness will get, but I have a firm faith that somehow it will all be okay.  I might not understand next week or next month how I feel right now that it will all be okay, but it really will be.  Somehow all the broken pieces of my heart will be bound together again, just like they have been the last 28 cycles.  This one will be no different.

And just as it is an event that usually makes all the light leave at once, it is also usually an event that allows the light to start coming back in.  The light comes back every time.  Without fail.  That is one thing I can trust.


That We Might Have Joy: Holley's Story

When I was younger, I read a book called "Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets," and I was completely in love. I read about a woman named "J.K. Rowling," and I knew one thing at the age of eleven--I wanted to be J.K. Rowling.

I’m 25 now, and well, that dream hasn’t exactly come true. I really suck at writing fantasy novels, and I honestly don’t think there will ever be another Harry Potter. Not to be so dramatic, I mean, J.K. Rowling was 32 when she published Harry Potter, and so many other authors don’t get big until after their twenties.

Anyway, the book I did publish I am quite proud of. It didn’t make me millions and have Robert Downey Jr. star in the movie, but “The Gift of a Friend’ brought me something that I never thought I could have, and that was joy.

"The Gift of a Friend" is the story of Harper Elias. She was really young when she became popstar "Scarlett Valentine." During this time, Harper starts being sexually abused by her uncle, and she turns to drugs and alcohol to cope. As a result, she spirals out of control, and is pulled out of Hollywood life. Hollywood life led her family to relocate to Utah, and that’s where Harper finds joy in the LDS Church. After Harper graduates high school, she goes back to Hollywood where she has to deal with fame and her new religion.

I knew once I published "The Gift of a Friend" that I wanted to write a sequel, and I was going to entitle it "The Gift of Forgiveness," but no matter how hard I tried, and no matter how outlined my story was, I just could not write it. So I decided to start talking about the issues that "The Gift of a Friend" brought up, including my own.

The day before I picked up Harry Potter, I was raped by someone I trusted. This was one of three instances where I was abused by this man. I wanted to write ‘The Gift of a Friend’ like it was therapy, a way to get out my own pain in writing, but it turned into something more. As soon as I started to tell my own story, people started to tell theirs. Several of my friends started to confess to me what happened to them as a kid. The world changes when someone says to you, "When I was younger, my Dad did this…. You’re the first person I’ve ever told." It made me feel like I was responsible for them. I was their voice, and I was proud of it.

In 2015, I started going to therapy at LDS Family Services, and it turned out to be the best decision that I have ever made. I started sorting out my own issues, and one day, I did something that I thought was impossible--I forgave my abuser. It was so sudden, as I just thought about how I never wanted to see this man again. But, if I was given a chance to do so in the next life, I would ask for forgiveness for him while he is on his judgment seat.

At first I didn’t know how to deal with this new found freedom that forgiveness had given me. I felt so great. Those things that haunted my thoughts were no longer there. I felt so free, and I wanted to share my thoughts with my friends. But my friends did not have the same thoughts. They were furious with me! They treated me like I was evil for forgiving this man. One of my friends, who insisted that she had forgiven her rapist, said that he did not deserve mercy from Heavenly Father for what he had done, and I just cried. Weren’t they happy for me?

I cried for days, until I forgave them too. I knew where they were. A few years ago, I was just like them. I didn’t care one bit if my abuser burned in hell for what he did to me. The idea of a rapist getting forgiveness sounded completely heinous to me! This was around the time that I knew I was ready to write "The Gift of Forgiveness," because I knew what forgiveness was now.

The worst thing that has ever happened to me, and quite possibly the worst thing to happen to me, became a blessing to me. If I could forgive someone for raping me, then I can forgive someone for saying harsh words or stealing my soda in the break room fridge at work. All the little things that happen to me, that can ruin any normal person’s day, didn’t matter at all.

I find joy in my journey. It's rough and hard. I mess up and do things that mock God (even if I don’t mean to). Things happen to me through other people’s indiscretions and my own. I do selfish things, and I think only of myself. But I know the Lord is there, and I know that He can take every single broken piece of us and turn it into something wonderful.

Moroni chapter 7 of the Book of Mormon tells us that "charity never faileth," and I know that is true. I have found my joy in following two of God’s greatest commandments, and that is "love one another" (John 13) and "forgive those who have trespassed against us" (D&C 64:8-11).

In short, I know that joy can be found in the power of the Atonement. By drawing on the most selfless act known to man, we are able to love each other without pause. Love encompasses every heartache we can ever experience. Because He died for us, we can have joy.


Days of Light and Joy

These last two days have been pure bliss.  I have had an abundance of light, energy, and love for my family, and it has been such a welcomed relief from the thick darkness that preceded this period of light.  Usually I experience light and darkness in such giant waves that the darkness seems so much darker because of the stark contrast between the darkness and the light.  But this time, I am determined to enjoy the light while it lasts and then hold on joyfully through the darkness knowing that the light will come again.

Since last Sunday when the darkness was darker than it had ever been before, I have experienced so much joy.  These are just a few of the things that have brought me joy:

  • We had a thunder storm on Sunday evening.  I absolutely LOVE thunderstorms, and this one was no exception.  Since I was in an emotional storm myself, the thunderstorm brought comfort and peace to my heart.  It helped me feel that God was very aware of me and that He was going to bless me if I could just hold on through the raging storm in my heart.
  • For FHE, we watched home videos.  These made my heart swell with love for my current family and for my future family.  It helped me realize that I do still have love in my heart and that I can be a good mom to another child whenever the time comes.  Everything is going to be okay.
  • My daughter has been a little lovebug this week, to the point that I've had to occasionally ask for some space from all the hugs and snuggles.  She has been telling me constantly that she loves me and that we're best friends.  This little girl is an angel in my life.  She helps me have a reason to get up every morning, and she keeps me smiling when it seems like there is no reason to smile.  She is definitely a gift from God!
  • One day, I had the energy to take Brooklyn to the zoo.  It was the perfect day to go and gave me this "good mom moment" feeling that boosted me up.  I wish I could do more fun things with Brooklyn every day like we used to, but I'm also thankful for these sporadic moments that help me appreciate every little bit I am able to do now.
  • One morning, I had enough ambition to get ready early and go outside to take some pictures.  Photography has been a source of joy for me the past few months and makes me feel thankful for the beautiful world I get to live in and for God's love in creating so much beauty.
  • I have been filling my time with a little something I like to call "crochet therapy."  Seriously, crocheting gives me something to do that is calming and relaxing while still helping me feel accomplished for doing something.  My husband has been so patient with me too in recognizing that some days this is just what I need to get through, and other days I will do the productive things I should be doing every day.  
  • One afternoon, when the light first started to return, my husband had to work late, so I decided I should do a little project to "work late" too and show him how much I appreciate him.  I organized a shelf that he has been wanting organized for a while.  I was so happy that I had the motivation and strength to do that, especially since it would have been completely too much to do just a day or two before.  
  • God has blessed me with absolutely incredible friends, friends who call or text to check on me, who worry about me, who are willing to talk and listen anytime, and who genuinely want for my happiness. They bless my life so much!
  • Since my husband worked late one day, he got off early on Friday.  I asked what he wanted to do, and he said that he wanted to deep clean.  I know this is not what he wanted to do, and up until all of this started I was able to keep up just fine, but I was so thankful for his help in cleaning.  Mostly I just needed someone to be there so I wouldn't get overwhelmed in the process (or before I even started haha), but he did so much cleaning too, and it helped me to take a deep breath and have a fresh start at trying to keep up with everything.  I did not know what a gem I was given when I married him, but he really is amazing and has made all of this struggle possible and even joyful.
  • I have not thought about wanting to die or give up in 2 days!!!  You probably don't realize what a miracle that is, but I'm pretty sure these unwanted, nagging, penetrating thoughts haven't left for several months, even when I thought I was feeling well.  And now they've been gone for an entire 2 days!  
I wish this light would stay, because I know the darkness will most likely come again, but I am so so thankful for the light and joy I've felt these last couple of days and for how it has lifted me up again and given me the strength to combat more darkness when it comes.  And I am holding firm to my goal to find joy through this next bout of darkness.  It will not destroy me or take away my joy in this beautiful life I am living.


That We Might Have Joy: Rachael's Story

I will always remember 2014 as the Year of the Baby. Left and right, friends and family were happily announcing that they would be expecting their own bundle of joy within the next nine months. While I was so happy for them, my husband and I were quietly suffering from not one, but two miscarriages. In a row. The first was fast and furious and over in a matter of hours. The second, however, dragged on for months, interrupting family vacations, weddings, and everyday life, a constant reminder that, though we wished we’d be blessed with more children, there was nothing we could do to change that.

Neal A. Maxwell taught that although we are happier when we keep the commandments, it is also true that “faithfulness will bring special challenges. It seems God is always stretching those who meekly serve Him.” The time spent suffering was certainly a special challenge which, though incredibly difficult, was a time of intensive growth and discovering how to have joy, even in the midst of a trial. Here are a few of the lessons learned:

1. Be happy for others.  I will confess to the stinging feeling of jealousy when it appeared that just about everyone I knew gushed about their soon-to-arrive baby. It seems it's a natural, innate quality in humans, or at least me, to be fiercely envious of those who have what we want. Two miscarriages in a row gave me the chance to work on mastering that imperfect part of myself. It wasn't like I was in line for a child and someone cut in front taking my baby. When I stepped back from our situation, I could think more clearly, and it was easier to come to the conclusion that someone else having a baby had nothing to do with my ability or inability to have one, which in turn, allowed me to be happy for others, even in the midst of hoping for what they'd been blessed with. Jeffrey R. Holland sums up my thoughts perfectly:

"You are not diminished when someone else is added upon."

How simple and true (and easy to forget)!

2. Don't be offended.  I once stumbled upon a conversation between someone I knew and a friend of hers where her friend said an old woman at church had asked her when she and her husband were planning on having children. The young lady, offended that anyone would ask, gave a crude answer about her bedroom life which shocked the woman into silence. Though when and how many children to have is a very personal choice to make, that kind of attitude and response is exactly why people are afraid to inquire after one another, which only separates us, makes it difficult to relate to one another, and in turn, makes it difficult to be supportive. We assume everyone else is judging when they ask, when in reality, they're more likely excited for our upcoming adventure. Though there were times I wasn’t able to find the words to speak when someone asked me about having more children because I was so choked-up and sad, more often than not, people have had similar experiences in childlessness and miscarriages. Some people have not and have offered words that were anything but comforting. "You're just stressed," or "It's not your time yet" or "I hope you aren't too upset about it," were said, straight-faced to me. I felt like bursting into tears but I always waited until I was out of sight. When I think about it though, they really were trying and that's what's important. I've learned from these miscarriages that the best thing to hear is "I'm sorry," or "That stinks," or "I've been there, too." In the end, being offended doesn't help the situation at all--it doesn't make me feel better and it closes my relationships with people who were well-meaning. As far as I know, none of us are perfect and I, too, have stuck my foot in my mouth more than once. I learned to better appreciate giving others the benefit of the doubt, and I hope others would do that for me should I inadvertently be offensive.

3. Believe in miracles and tender mercies.  Around the time of my second miscarriage, there were an unusually high number of rainbows. I'm sure some would dismiss it as a coincidence in weather patterns, but I like to think of it as a small miracle and tender mercy. I wasn’t able to look at a rainbow and hear my girls' shouts of excitement and not be heartened. So, I tried to see the miracles in my life more often. We take so many things for granted and forget that indeed, they truly are incredible. I had a reproductive physiology and anatomy class in college, and though there are millions of things that could go wrong, the creation of life, more often than not, happens flawlessly. What a miracle! Seeing my daughters grow from helpless infants to talented, intelligent, independent beings was also a powerful reminder. Watching a garden grow, experiencing nature, seeing the stars at night--all miracles. Being bitter and angry reduces those things to seemingly insignificant. Reminding myself that there are miracles and tender mercies if I'm willing to look for them was a cherished blessing that still resonates with me today.

While it's easy to read a list of lessons learned, it was certainly difficult to put everything into practice. I thought about the things I'd learned often and will admit to having slipped back into my bitter, unhappy, jealous self on occasion during that difficult year. Little by little, I did see progress in myself and knew I was being blessed for trying. Life is about gaining experience, both good and bad, and in the end, we can only control our reaction to it. I am still affected by that trial, and all of the sorrow has now turned to joy. Though there sometimes doesn’t seem to be sense to be made of suffering, I think it’s in part to allow us to draw upon the peace, fortitude, and strength that is gained during a trial, knowing we’ve been able to endure a previous difficulty. When faced with something challenging, I now know it is possible to feel joy, even in the midst of it and that God is indeed with each of us every step of the way.

To read the complete list of lessons learned, click HERE.