EVERYBODY is excited to watch conference this weekend, mostly because the rumor mill for possible changes coming to the church. Many people claiming THIS conference will be life-changing. I reaallllyyyy don’t wanna be that person but…aren’t all General Conferences supposed to be “life-changing?” I know. I know. I’m sorry for being that way but like…it’s true, right? I’m not necessarily saying there won’t be any big changes, because I don’t know, I’m not in charge…but what if literally none of these rumors are confirmed this weekend? Will people still be glad they watched? Are we still preparing to receive personal revelation from each session? Just because the rumors are strong and there were several changes last conference, doesn’t mean there will be this time. Of course I could be wrong. I’m not in contact with the Prophet—who is the only person with the authority to receive revelation regarding the entire church and kingdom. BUT! even if I was, with the sacredness of his calling…I doubt I would get any hints toward any possible new revelation before anybody else and I don’t believe there are exceptions to this. These rumors have likely been completely fabricated so far by those who can only speculate, created not maliciously at all I’m sure, but probably not with ‘reliable’ sources. I’m not saying they can’t be correct, like I said I have no clue, I’m not in charge. I do think that most members realize this and I’m just preaching to the choir here, but I think there might be some going into it this year with the wrong expectations. I don’t think we should ever set ourselves up for disappointment when listening for guidance from Heavenly Father. I guess what I am trying to say is this: regardless of what happens this weekend, it is important to remember that this is Heavenly Father’s church, He is in charge, He knows what is best and His plan is better than we could ever imagine for ourselves and the church. AND listen to what is said, whether it’s what you hoped for or not. 🧡
Some of you–especially if you have seen a few of my youtube videos–may know about my struggles with mental health, while the rest of you probably have no clue. Around the same time I started getting sick with my chronic physical illnesses, I also became afflicted with anxiety and depression. At first it was easiest to deny it, pretend it wasn’t there. Eventually, after one of my first pair attacks in front of my new husband, he was scared and confused. He could see my struggles and I knew I could not hide it from anyone, especially myself, any longer. I finally said to him, “Something is wrong with me, with my mind. I cannot control it. I need help.”
We spoke about it all night, he stayed home from work the next day, and we made an appointment to speak with our Bishop about reaching out to LDS Family Services for counseling. I started going to therapy for about a year (until I started medication, but I still go to therapy because I work best with help from both.) I got better and was equipped with the tools I needed to help manage my mental state. Regardless, it was still an emotional rollercoaster where I occasionally found myself engulfed in scary and even life-threatening thoughts and situations. I would be fine one moment, then something would happen to upset me and I was rapidly spiraling into darkness. I was eventually hospitalized and I was not allowed to be discharged until I had an appointment with a psychiatrist to receive medication for my condition. I was avoiding medication like the plague. It was another attempt to deny what was going on inside my head, to pretend I did not need help. I also feared a new medication would make my physical ailments worse.
About a month later, I was sitting in the room with my new psychiatrist while I explained my situation. I realized at that moment how lucky I truly was and how God’s hand is really in all things–even when I felt unworthy of His love and help. I told her my stomach was paralyzed (normally much easier that saying I have gastroparesis and then have to explain that my stomach was paralyzed anyway…just easier to skip the name and give the explanation first.) She responded “Oh! I have a few patients with gastroparesis!” *Reminder: I hadn’t said the name of my condition, but she knew what was going on already, something that was very rare for me…even with medical professionals.* She then told me that her patients with gastroparesis normally do well with the specific medication she later prescribed to me. She warned me that it would likely take me a month or two to actually feel the effects of the medication. However, I was one of those very lucky, rare people who felt the effects almost immediately. After about two days after taking the medication, the dark cloud above my head was lifted. My almost uncontrollable, seemingly instinctive pessimisn (abnormal for the real “Alexa”) was gone. It was replaced by my true attitude of positivity, love, and happiness. I was compassionate again. I was truly happy.
Everybody’s experience with mental health is different. Most people’s bodies really do take a few trial months with several different medications until they find what works best for them. Some do not even need medication and need only a few sessions of therapy. However, regardless of the path, mental illness can always get better and be managed with the proper care and help. It is probably one of the most difficult things to go through sometimes, even now with medication. There are some days where I genuinely think to myself, “I will never be happy again,” “Everyone would be better off without me,” “I am a waste of space.” It is one of the most challenging things to overcome, when it feels physically impossible to make myself believe otherwise. The day following one of my worst nights, I wrote
A Letter to Myself, When I am Not Myself
Last night was the worst I have ever felt up to this point. Because of my illness, I just feel like I wake up, sit in pain and discomfort, then go to sleep, then repeat the next day. Then, last night my feelings were royally hurt at a family get together. (Turns out it was just a simple misunderstanding, but at the time it felt like the world was ending.) I thought for sure that my family members would never want to speak with me again. I literally felt like I had nothing and nobody to live for except my husband. However, I felt like I was just a large burden on him with all my health issues. I was sure that I was going to end my life that night. I do not want to go into much detail, it will only give you (talking to myself) ammonition for later on when you might feel this way again. Dalyn laid in bed with me trying to comfort me, as I stared at the wall, completely numb to anything he could possibly tell me. All the sudden, I caught a glimpse of one of the photos on the wall of he and I at Disneyland. I thought about how much I wished things would be better in my life: my relationships, my illnesses, if I could get pregnant and carry the baby to term without health scares, and raise a healthy baby and take them with my family and friends to Disneyland and have a ‘normal’ life like everyone else. I was not sure how (I am still not completely sure how) I could ever have any of those things. But I was reminded of Heavenly Father’s plan. I felt the Spirit tell me that those things, those blessings, are in store for me. Even if my illness never gets better, I do believe (even though it seemed impossible at the time) that my life will get better in other ways. So as Dalyn sat there, trying to comfort me but still oblivious to the depth of the situation and my plan to end my life, I decided to come clean. It was scary and extremely tough to do. I will never forget the look on his face of pure terror and sadness. It sounds weird but his face reminded me that he did love me, and regardless of how bad I feel about being sick when he does so much, he still wanted me there and to take care of me however necessary. I also told Dalyn about my new plan: to get better, to mend the relationships with family members that I thought were over forever, and to look forward to that vision I saw in my head…of me, Dalyn, my whole family, and our future children, enjoying a vacation at the Happiest Place on Earth. It is a small dream to accomplish, but it will mean the absolute world. It is a representation of a better life.
I made up with my family members later that night, it was really not as big of a deal as I had made it out to be in my head. Then I decided to write this letter only 24 hours later. Life is still hard, but I already feel a million, zillion times better. Things would still be better even if I wasn’t able to mend the fight with my family members. It would have been better because I remembered my Heavenly Father. I am very grateful to have mended the wounds with my family though.
What I ask and plead of you (myself, or you…reading this…) is this: just give it another 24 hours and then see how you feel, just talk to somebody, spend time with the people you love, give it one more shot. This too shall pass and you will win this fight and live the BEST GOSH DANG life Heavenly Father has to offer! Just give it one more shot, I promise you will feel better. Pray, even when you feel so focused on your plan, feeling so low that you really don’t want to talk to God.
I wrote this letter only a few weeks before I started taking medication, which made a world of a difference, as mentioned before. I also would receive the revelation to write 1,001 Facts about the Prophet Joseph Smith only about a week or so after writing this letter as well. Looking back, yes, things today ARE SO MUCH BETTER ALREADY. Yes, I still struggle with mental health. Yes, I still struggle with physical health. No, I still haven’t been able to have children yet. However, I have my amazing and thrilling career now. I have built new and/or stronger relationships with my friends and family. If my life would have ended then, I would have never had these experiences. I know it is just the beginning. Heavenly Father still has great things in store for me to experience and blessings left for me to receive. His plan would not be complete if I decided to end my life on my own terms.
I have a lot more to say on this matter, which I will continue in the next blog or two. For now, I wanted to focus mostly on the fact that is does get better. REALLY! I swear it. If necessary, try writing a letter to yourself when you’re not yourself…or you can use mine ( seriously, that’s why I decided to post it in the first place.) Create a safety plan and practice it and know it by heart, like a school student knows what to do during a fire drill. As soon as you notice the triggers, take action before the spiral. Communicate to those you love about what is going through your mind. Speak with a therapist, psychiatrist, or even a Bishop. You can fight and win. My battle, like yours and everyone else’s, is not yet won. However, with God’s help and the help of others, I can summon the strength that I never knew I had before to overthrow my mental illness…and win in the war.
Hey everyone! Welcome back to another installment of “Author’s Notes,” where I share a specific fact from my book, 1,001 Facts about the Prophet Joseph Smith, and my thoughts on it. (Pre-Order your copy TODAY, you can do so by pressing the “Pre-Order” button either on the right side of the computer screen, or the bottom screen of your mobile device). Here is this week’s fact:
5. The Prophet’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith, was born on July 8, 1777, one
year and four days after the United States Declaration of Independence
was signed. She was brought to this earth when the freedom of religion
was possible for the first time ever. Just in time for the Restoration of
the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which was brought forth by her
This might be one of my favorite facts–even though I have so many favorites. I noticed the connection between the dates immediately. God does not make mistakes. Lucy Mack Smith was foreordained to her calling on earth–as we all were in the life pre-mortal existence–to be the mother of the Prophet Joseph Smith and an instrument in the restoration of Christ’s gospel. However, before the freedom of religion was available to anyone, this would have been impossible. I personally believe that our founding fathers were also foreordained to their callings to bring freedom and liberty to God’s children–not only in the United States, but to make the freedom of religion (and freedom in general) eventually possible all around the world. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we believe that after Jesus Christ’s death and ascension into Heaven, the apostles worked really hard to keep the truth of Christ’s church together. But after thousands of years, there were several Christian churches who each had truth in their doctrine, but not the full truth from Jesus Christ himself since the truth had been changed so many times and/or people broke off and formed their own churches based on certain beliefs they wanted to believe. In the year 1820, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith and revealed that none of the churches at that time were correct. Joseph Smith was commanded by them to keep the commandments, wait, and prepare himself. If he would do so, he would be permitted to be an instrument in restoring the fullness of Christ’s church. Years later, an angel appeared to Joseph instructing him about an ancient record written on gold plates sharing the story of Jesus Christ visiting the ancient inhabitants of America. Years after that, Joseph Smith was permitted to translate the plates with God’s divine help and publish it as the Book of Mormon. Once it was published, Joseph was commanded by God to re-organize Christ’s true church, now known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or nicknamed the “Mormon” church.
As far as Christ’s gospel goes, this is what I think Heavenly Father had/has in mind here:
Adam and Eve are cast out of the Garden of Eden after partaking of the forbidden fruit. They are then able to have children to multiply and replenish the earth, which was the beginning of mankind on earth. It is also the beginning of trial and error, and learning from our mistakes. Years pass and some people continue to follow God and prophesy of Christ’s coming.
Jesus Christ’s birth and ministry: Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is born. At age 30, he began his ministry and teaching the gospel. He organizes his church with the help of his twelve apostles.
The Atonement: Just before His crucifixion, Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane. He experiences every sin and suffers for them. Since Jesus Christ lived His life without sin, he was able to do instead atone for our sins. He also experiences what it’s like to go through trial, pain, and any sorrow anybody who ever has lived, is living, or will live upon the earth will ever go through. Because of this, we are fully understood in our sufferings by Christ himself. We are also able to repent and return to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ again.
Christ’s Death, Resurrection, Visit to the Americas, and Ascension into Heaven: Because Christ was resurrected, we can be too. After Christ’s and the apostles’ eventual deaths, several Christian churches broke off to form their own. The fullness of Christ’s gospel was lost. This time in church history is called the great apostasy.
Global Exploration leads to the discovery of the Americas. Several countries claim parts of the New World to rule over. Religious persecution leads Puritans and other religious people to flee to the New Land where they are mostly free to live their religions. Great Britain’s taxation without representation of its thirteen colonies in America leads to conflict…which leads to the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The Declaration of Independence leads to the American Revolutionary War (which…fun fact…Joseph Smith’s grandfather’s both fought in…meanwhile, Lucy Mack Smith is born in 1777). The colonies eventually win the war and form their own country called the United States of America. A few years later, in 1787, the Constitution and Bill of Rights were written…officially allowing the Freedom of Religion in the United States as an inalienable right. At this time, Lucy Mack Smith is around ten years old. Joseph Smith Sr., the Prophet’s father, was around sixteen.
Dec. 23, 1805: Joseph Smith Jr. is born in Sharon, Vermont, to Lucy and Joseph Smith Sr.
Spring 1820: Joseph Smith is visited by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ at fourteen years old. He learns that there is no correct church on the earth.
September 1823: The angel Moroni visits Joseph Smith, giving him instructions regarding the ancient record on gold plates. He is instructed to prepare himself and live worthily so he can be permitted to translate it.
1829-1830: Joseph Smith translates and publishes the Book of Mormon.
April 6, 1830: The first meeting of Christ’s true church is held at the farm of Peter Whitmer Sr. Jesus Christ’s church is restored. Gradually, line upon line, precept upon precept, Joseph Smith taught the Latter-Day Saints the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Once he was finished, the Lord allowed him to be taken to Heaven in 1844 when he was killed by an angry mob. Because of the work done by the Prophet Joseph Smith, we not only have the opportunity to learn of gospel, but also perform ordinances essential for salvation. Because of the restoration of the gospel, we can perform these ordinances for those who have passed away too. Heavenly Father loves all His children and wants each of them to return to live with Him.
Okay, that was just a really long way of saying: God makes no mistakes. The church is true. He knows exactly what He is doing. He has all of history, the present, and future planned out, down to every last detail. He has done all this because of His infinite love for His children. Including you.
Hi! So I am starting a new segment on this blog called “Author’s Notes.” It is honestly the reason I wanted to start a blog in the first place. While I was writing this book, 1,001 Facts about the Prophet Joseph Smith, there were several times (and I mean SEVERAL times) when I would be typing a fact and I would want sooo badly to add my own opinion, commentary, or “two cents.” However, my opinion is not fact (even though it is, let’s be honest(;..). So, I censored myself a lot and tried only including the facts. I decided that I would add my commentary to a blog instead, called “Author’s Notes.” I am so excited. I hope you all like it! Today I am going to share a fact from my book, and also share my thoughts on that fact specifically.
93. Just a few months before his visitation from Heavenly Father
and Jesus Christ, fourteen year old Joseph
was out on an errand for his parents. He was just about to reach the house on his way
home when he heard a gun being fired in his direction two times. Somebody was trying
to shoot him. He was frightened and quickly ran inside. The family went outside later to
try finding the shooter, but failed.
94. They did find the tracks in the snow where the shooter hid under a wagon. The next
morning, they found two balls in the head and neck of a cow nearby, which the shooter
hit instead of Joseph. They never found the shooter and never learned why they tried to
randomly kill the fourteen-year- old farm boy. This was before Joseph received
persecution for the first vision because it hadn’t even happened yet.
To the Smith family, the motive of the attempted
murderer was a total mystery.
It is important to remember here that Joseph Smith was only fourteen, and had not experienced the visitation from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ yet, therefore had no reason to be persecuted at that time. While Lucy Mack Smith, the Prophet’s mother and source for this fact, never explained this outright…I made my own assumptions as to why she found this important enough to include just a few paragraphs before recounting the story of Joseph Smith’s First Vision in her biography.
We know that the adversary can make us believe and listen to things that are illogical, dark, and evil. There is evidence even today of men, women, and children losing control of themselves and committing horrible crimes. Yes, most of these people suffer from mental illness. I am not at all trying to downplay that. I do believe, however, that Satan is the author and father of mental illness. Not only that, but he always seems to find ways to make mental illness worse. That is not the point here, though. The adversary is smart…smarter than I think we even realize. He can manipulate our minds and hearts into doing basically anything, if we let him influence us. Have you ever done something a little messed up, and not even had a real reason or understanding why you did it? Or have you ever done something a little messed up, and felt totally justified in doing so? Satan feeds us those reasons, and sometimes he succeeds in getting us to do things without reason.
We know that Lucifer was cast out of heaven in the pre-mortal existence. He was never born to earth and the veil was never lifted from him. He knew Joseph Smith in the pre-mortal existence. He knew Joseph Smith was pre-ordained to restore the fullness of Christ’s gospel. He knew the beginning of Joseph Smith’s journey was just about to begin. I think this anonymous shooter was manipulated by the adversary into randomly trying to murder a ‘random’ fourteen year old (or so the shooter probably thinks, but the adversary knows exactly what he is doing). My belief is that this was the adversary’s last-ditch effort (or one of his last-ditch efforts) to stop God’s work from progressing. If the Prophet of the restoration was killed before his First Vision, then maybe Christ’s church would never be restored. However, as Joseph Smith himself once said, “The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”
Even though this fact may seem somewhat insignificant, to me this is just further evidence to support the truthfulness of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I know it to be true. I have seen the proof with my own eyes. I have grown to love the Prophet Joseph Smith so deeply, it is hard to put into words. I am grateful for everything he went through to bring the fullness of the gospel to the Earth. It is true what John Taylor said after Joseph’s martyrdom, “Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it.” I cannot wait to help bring some of the stories and facts of his life to you all through this book and more “Author’s Notes” segments.