Arrows out: a birthday wish

Today is my 29th birthday. As I have reflected on my 20s these past couple days I’ve been filled with so much gratitude. The last 10 years of my life have been filled with many changes and life-altering decisions. Your 20s are often referred to as the “decade of decisions,” to which I shout a resounding AMEN.

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Eight years ago I was living in Orlando and heard Elder Jeffery R. Holland, an apostle of the Lord, Jesus Christ in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, give an inspired talk. I sat on the stage in the very back of a very crowded church building. I could barely see him standing at the podium. But his words pierced me to my heart. He spoke about service and compared it to a tithe on our lives. If we lived to the age of 100, he said, that meant 10 years were dedicated in service to the Lord.

I knew he we speaking of cumulative years, laboring all our lives to serve God and His children rather than a specific block of years. Regardless,  his words touched me profoundly. It was here, sitting on that hard metal chair, jotting down frantic notes, and wiping a tear from my eye that I decided to serve a mission. Elder Holland’s talk has redefined the last near decade of my life.

Just last week, I woke early one morning, thinking I would need to feed my sweet son, but he was sleeping peacefully. As he slept, my mind began to travel though a photo gallery of memories of the last 10 years. I thought of all the places I’ve traveled, the faces of the people I’ve met and loved and learned from. I thought of my family and how it’s grown. Challenges come, often times masking the progress I’ve made or the lesson I’m learning. Yet what always brings me back to myself is service.

Service has been a constant in my life. Not because I’m necessarily good at it, but because I need it. It has provided me peace, strength, joy and the most defining moments of my wonderful, blessed, beautiful life.

So for my birthday this year, I wanted to do something special. This year, I’m giving my birthday to someone. Anyone, really. Anyone who needs it. I want to fill this next year with intentional service.

Please don’t mistake this post for professing an inflated sense of self, or tooting my own horn, if you will. I simply know that if I don’t share, and provide a means of accountability, this goal will simply become a good intention.

I invite you to join me. Let’s fill our lives and the world with goodness, pointing our arrows outward rather than inward. My 29 ways to serve are quite simple. I have two small, demanding children at home who are my first priority. Yet as I brainstormed ideas for how to fill my time this next year, I thought of so many easy ways to serve and even involve my kids on a few.

Please share with me the ways you serve! Let’s lift each other.  And thank you to each of you for serving me with your friendship, kindness, words of encouragement, uplifting comments and wonderful examples. I love you.

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So without further ado, here is my list of 29 ways I will serve this next year!

  1. Donate blood
  2. Knit scarves for refugees
  3. 100 percent visiting teaching
  4. Have patience with my kids
  5. Participate in a food drive
  6. Cheer up someone sad
  7. Babysit a friend’s children
  8. Make baby blankets for the hospital
  9. Help someone move
  10. Write to a missionary
  11. Help a new mom
  12. Pay for the person behind me in the drive-thru
  13. Go to the temple each month
  14. Prepare five names for the temple
  15. Write letters to my grandparents
  16. Write thank-you letters to local police officers and fire fighters
  17. Make a blessing bag for the homeless
  18. Create a warm fuzzies jar for my home and teach my children about service
  19. Plant a tree
  20. Clean the temple
  21. Participate in the Light the World service advent calendar at Christmas
  22. Play Secret Santa
  23. Invite someone lonely to share a holiday
  24. Run in a 5K for a good cause
  25. Clean a church building
  26. Feed the missionaries
  27. Host a bake sale and donate all the proceeds to charity
  28. Send a care package to a soldier
  29. Feed a hungry child

Teton Valley Balloon Rally

I’m still devastated that they made the name of the event rhyme.

But I’ll look past it because of this.

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I have always wanted to attend a hot air balloon rally. Every year in Driggs, Idaho, hot air balloon enthusiasts gather at the Teton County Fair Grounds on Fourth of July Weekend for the annual Teton Valley Balloon Rally. If you ever have the chance, check it out. It’s a smaller rally, but so fun. There’s something charming about small-town events like this. I love the ambiance. It’s so fun.

Here are a few photos from the event. We woke up at 4:30 am to get there by 6:00 for the start of the event. So worth it. Link was a trooper and did so well. Bell stayed at home with a very selfless babysitter who got up at 4:00 to come sleep on our couch. Thank you, Lexy!

Seriously, don’t miss this event. It was spectacular.

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Here is a link to my friend Anna’s blog post from last year. She captured some amazing photos of the event. She’s one of my favorite Rexburg photographers and I would love to hire her for a family photoshoot one day. Check out her great work.

Life, intentionally

Last time I blogged, I got pretty real about my struggle with postpartum depression.

I’d like to get real again and sing the praises of my doctor and modern medicine. I started medication for my PPD over a month ago. It has been quite literally life changing. I feel like I have walked out of a haze and fog into the brilliant sunlight. It has helped my mind return to equilibrium. 

Since starting the medication, I have found so much joy in motherhood. Part of that has been the SSRIs, and part, I’d like to think, has been my resolve to live more intentionally. What you may not know is that I suffered from debilitating depression my entire second pregnancy. One day I’ll write about it. But not yet.

During the thick of it all, I felt like my life was out of control. I felt I lived my life reactively rather than proactively, a victim to my mental condition. I hated it, and often felt trapped. Medication has been a wonderful answer for my PPD battle, because it has allowed me to take control of my life and my motherhood, empowering me to make to live intentionally and proactively. And happily!

Medication may not be the best option for everyone – I totally get that. Therapy is also an invaluable tool. If you are struggling, there is no shame in it. I’d like to think I’m pretty awesome, and I really struggled with PPD. Please, get the help you need. If you have questions, I’m clearly an open book. Please ask! I’d love to talk.

The days are still long, and the tantrums, meltdowns and demands of motherhood are still trying. But I am in such a better place and I’m so grateful to my Savior and modern medicine for helping me get there.

Part of my new resolve to live more intentionally is to fill my days with goodness for my family and me. We are soaking up every minute of summer. Now that Bellamy is a little older, she has made all the magic of summer come to life. We eat popsicles, beat the heat of our apartment (NO A/C!) at the splash pad, read books and create art. She is a blast and I am so grateful to be able to be mentally and emotionally present for this phase of our lives.

Yet I still find myself trying to come up with creative ways to add variety to our weeks, and turn of the TV. So we’ve created a bucket list!

It started as a summer bucket list, but we’ve since expanded it to a Rexburg bucket list. Eric is graduating in December and we are going to be soon closing the Rexburg chapter of our lives. More on that later, but we have a lot we still need to do before we leave!

So here it is, the Whitlock Family Rexburg Bucket List:

  1. Take a picture in front of the Rexburg, Idaho wall (Done!)
  2. Visit the zoo
  3. Fly a kite
  4. Tour the fire station
  5. Go camping in Yellowstone
  6. Do an endowment session in the Idaho Falls Temple
  7. Teton Valley Balloon Rally (Done!)
  8. Visit Driggs
  9. Visit Jackson
  10. Buy a Soda Vine shirt
  11. Make out in the gardens
  12. Hike R Mountain
  13. Paddle board at the Cable Factory
  14. Finish the summer reading program with Bell
  15. Make a bird feeder (Done!)
  16. Take swimming lessons (Bellamy)
  17. Visit the IF aquarium when it opens
  18. Make sugar cookies
  19. Feed the ducks
  20. Ride the carousel
  21. Survive the eclipse
  22. See a movie at the Drive-in
  23. Take family pictures
  24. Go to the Madison County Fair
  25. Get Eric a haircut
  26. Go to the ice caves
  27. Take a selfie with the LOVE wall
  28. Snow shoe
  29. Take a picture in a wheat field
  30. Visit Bear World

I’m going to try to blog more of our adventures, so if you’d like to follow along, stay tuned or follow this blog!

Motherhood with the Monster

Motherhood has got me feeling pretty crazy these days.

Tonight, for example, I put face wash in my hair and forgot to use body wash during my shower. Sadly, this is not the first time this has happened.

To be fair, I love being a mom. Bell brings me so much joy. Link brings me so much peace. I love watching them grow; love teaching them how to live a life built on joy and faith.

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A lot of days, my motherhood looks like my happy Instagram feed. But there’s another face to my motherhood. Yes, I’ve alluded to it before. Blogged about it even. But when it comes down to it, I have a hard time looking this face in the eye.

Each semester, I teach my students about writing from a brilliant feature story called Mrs. Kelly’s Monster. It won the inaugural Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 1979. Mrs. Edna Kelly’s Monster is a collection of blood vessels that have grown into an abnormal mass in her brain. The story tells a detailed account of her surgery to bravely have this Monster removed, but in the end, she succumbs to it.

Though my Monster is nothing like Mrs. Kelly’s, it is just as sinister. My Monster is a shape-shifter. Sometimes it looks like anxiety. Other times deep loneliness and hopelessness. A few times, OCD behavior. More recently, it’s materialized as postpartum depression.

We don’t talk about these taboo words — these Monsters — enough. I think part of that is because of the nature of the Monster. Part of it is because the Monster manifests itself to so many in so many different ways.

For me, the Monster is cunning.

I’ll be making it through my week with somewhat ease, feeling great about my life because I actually cooked my family a vegetable. Well done, Super Mom. The laundry will have made it out of the dryer into a laundry basket to be rummaged though for a few days until it finally gets folded instead of tripped over. (I’ll take that victory, thank you very much.) Bell and I got outside for a walk or by some miracle of miracles I even made it to the gym once?? Yes. That happened once.

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But then, just when I’m feeling confident in the melodious monotony of motherhood, BOOM. There’s the Monster with the stealth and strength of a samurai, beating my soul, my bruised and battered I’m-trying-so-hard soul into a heap upon the ground. And before my soul knows what has hit it, the Monster is there laughing, shoving a grey-tinted filter onto the bridge of my nose, altering my view of my beautiful life.

Suddenly, those vegetables are soggy and worthless because they only ended up on my table once this week. Just once! They laundry is suddenly overwhelming and never-ending. Poor Bell deserves so much better than being locked up with me in a tiny apartment all day. And the gym? How could someone as out of shape and gross as me ever reach her goals?

“Give up,” the Monster whispers.

My brain and my heart try to rally.

“No!” They say. “That’s ridiculous! You’re working so hard, and doing so well.”

But the Monster feels so much stronger. So convincing. So real.

It spins horrible half-truths of failure. It breathes berating inaccuracies about my abilities. It flashes terrifyingly life-like images of horrible things happening to my babies. My precious, innocent babies. And what can I possibly do to stop the horror from reaching us? Try as I might to shut out the world and keep us safe, all I have to do is turn on the news. Horrible accidents, pain and evil have hurt dozens of others. Each is someone’s baby. What makes mine any safer?

And all the strength that this poor soul has tried to cultivate for weeks and days since the last time the Monster struck has finally given out. Fear has taken hold and threatens to never relinquish its grasp.

“No. Please, no,” the soul begs.

But the Monster only laughs harder.

And so the withered soul does the only thing it can think of. It puts up shield after shield, building a wall, an impenetrable fortress with the only resource it has left: anger. And the anger is vicious.

It seeks to rise up against the Monster. To ward it off with its rage and its frustration.

And yet, the anger just seems to feed the Monster.

And the grey-filtered glasses become my new normal. Everything sets me off. Everything puts me on edge. All my effort is focused into keeping a level head with my children and friends and neighbors.

“Don’t show them who you really are,” the Monster whispers.

“How could I?” the soul wonders in desperation. They all depend on me for something. “How can I let them all down?”

What’s left are illogical fights with my husband and irrational fights with myself.

And so the soul desperately turns to the Lord, hiding behind a wall of anger and fear, pleading to feel whole again. Pleading to defeat the Monster once and for all.

Time passes. Sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly.

Eventually the defeat comes. But it’s always just a battle. Never the war. The Monster goes into hiding for a time, and the soul creeps out from behind the wall. The filter fades. My perception of reality adjusts to what it once was. Confidence slowly returns.

“I can do this,” I think as I go back to folding my laundry and blowing bubbles with Bell. “I’m a good mom.”

But it never lasts long. And on and on the cycle goes.

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Postpartum depression affects 1 in 7 women. My Monster might look a lot different from theirs, but it’s no less vicious. Millions of people struggle with anxiety and depression.

I am currently engaged in a bitter battle with the Monster. It’s not going well. And so I cling to faith. Weakly, at first, with the resolve to try harder the next hour, then the next, then the next.

And a lot of times, at first, I feel nothing. But to me, that’s what faith is. It’s trusting in God, even when you’re not sure he trusts in you. Because at the finish line of every long battle, Christ is standing there. And turns out, he always was. That devilish Monster was just blocking Him from my view.

I was afraid to write (and mostly share) these words. Maybe now you’ll see the Monster when you see me. I hope not. Maybe your monster looks similar. I hope not. But if somehow, these words help one person face their Monster today and tomorrow and the next day, well then I’m glad I wrote them.

And if you too are fighting your Monster, whether you’re a mother, a father, a sister a brother or a friend, I say to you what I say to myself: press on.

Please press on. I need you to. So many need you to.

We’ll vanquish that Monster one faith-filled battle at a time.

Sorrow that the eye can’t see

I don’t know about you, but I’m not sad about 2016 coming to a close.

This year has been one huge sigh of exasperation for me. I don’t know what it is. Wonderful things have happened that I can’t fail to recognize. In many ways, it’s been a typical, and blessed year in the life.

And yet somehow, 2016 has still been a difficult one for me. Those closest to me have buoyed me up during some personal tragedies and setbacks, yet for most of the year, mine has been a sorrow that the eye cannot see.

Continue reading “Sorrow that the eye can’t see”

7 freezer meals from my hot mess to yours

Please enjoy this unrelated selfie of us being very attractive busy.

The other day a friend texted me about some logistics for a project we were working on for Rexburg for Refugees. Half way through, she asked me a question I’m still shaking my head over.

“You’ll have to tell me your secret for how you do all that you do.”

I felt 20 percent flattered, 80 percent FRAUD.

My life has gotten exponentially busier the last few months. Like, crazy busy. I’m talking teaching at university, developing an online course, a BUSY toddler, directing a local non profit, a busy calling in my young women’s organization in my church congregation, singing in a community choir (what was I thinking) and growing a tiny human with my body. Oh, and running a household while putting a husband through school. (Consider this our holiday letter of what’s new in the Whitlock household.)

Needless to say, most days I feel like I’m holding my life together with my pregnancy-allowed doses of Diet Coke and venting during late night crying sessions to my husband between stress sobs.

That’s how I do what I do.

So I’m all about making my life a little easier whenever possible.

Cue the freezer meals.

Because let’s be real. You’re busy too. Super busy. Like, can barely keep it all together busy.

Well here are a few tried and true freezer meals to help your life. I take an afternoon about once every few weeks and stock my freezer with these (mostly crockpot) meals. I buy meat on sale at a store like Winco, I stock up on canned goods I know I’ll need throughout the month, and it keeps my costs down. Win. Win. All the wins.

And it’s so easy! The meals are easy to make (we’re talking meat browning at the most here, people), and easy to cook. Plop it in a crock pot or stick it in the oven and boom. Domestic goddess.

So here you go.

Spaghetti sauce

  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage
  • Two 24 oz jars of spaghetti sauce
  • Diced tomatoes, do not drain
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • ½ – 1 tsp Sugar

Directions:

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Move onions and garlic to the edges of the pan. Add the Italian sausage and cook through. Drain the pan. Add the spaghetti sauce and the diced tomatoes with the juices. Add the basil, oregano, salt, pepper and sugar to taste. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Let cool and place in freezer bag.

For crock pot: Defrost overnight. Place sauce in crock pot on low for 6 hours or high for 4. (Or until thoroughly heated through).

You can also heat the sauce on the stovetop.

Ranch pork chops:

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 uncooked pork chops
  • 1 envelope dry Ranch dressing mix
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup

Prep:

  1. Place all ingredients in freezer bag.

Cook:

  1. Thaw overnight.
  2. Dump meal into crockpot.
  3. Cook low for 4-6 hours.

 

Sloppy Joes: (From Six Sisters)

  • 1 lb. ground turkey or ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 can tomato soup (10.57 oz)
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbs. mustard
  • 1 Tbs. brown sugar

Directions:

In a large skillet, add turkey, onion, celery, and green pepper until turkey is no longer pink. Drain the grease. Cool slightly and add freezer bag. Add tomato soup, ketchup, mustard, and brown sugar to ingredients in freezer bag and mix together. Store in freezer.

To cook: Defrost overnight. Place into freezer bag. Cook on low for 4 hours, keep warm until serving. Serve on hamburger buns.
Makes 6-8 servings.

Café Rio Pork: (From Crème de la Crumb)

(Give yourself more time to complete this recipe. The end result will be worth it. I make a bunch and freeze it to use for pork salad, pork tacos, pulled pork sandwiches, you name it.)

Step 1:

  • 2 pounds pork (rib meat or loin)
  • ¾ cup coke
  • ¼ cup brown sugar

Step 2:

  • 1 cup coke
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ¼ teaspoon onion salt
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder

Step 3:

  • ¾ cup coke
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 4 oz. can diced green chilies
  • 10 oz. mild red enchilada sauce

Directions:

Step 1: Place pork in a zip lock bag. Add coke and brown sugar and seal bag. Chill at least 1 hour or overnight.

Step 2: Add pork to slow cooker and discard marinade. Add coke, water, garlic salt, onion salt and chili powder. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours. Drain slow cooker and shred pork with two forks.

Step 3: Blend coke, brown sugar, chili powder, green chilis and enchilada sauce together in blender. Pour sauce into slow cooker. Cook about 30 minutes longer.

Freezer bags: Place pork into freezer bags. I divide the meat up for different meals, such as tacos, wraps, salads, sandwiches, etc. Place in freezer.

To use: Defrost in fridge overnight. Heat over the stove, or in a crockpot on low for a few hours.

Lemon Garlic Chicken:

  • 4-6 chicken breasts (or 8 to 10 chicken tenders)
  • 1-2 tsp. minced garlic
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. parsley flakes
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice (or juice of one whole lemon)

Prep:

  1. Place all ingredients into a freezer bag.
  2. After sealing bag, turn bag over several times until chicken is well coated. Freeze flat.

Cook:

  1. Thaw in refrigerator overnight.
  2. Pour into baking dish. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes. OR
  3. Place chicken in crockpot (can be frozen) and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. (High for 4-6 hours.)

Taco soup: (From High Heels and Grills)

Ingredients:

  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 can sweet corn, drained
  • 1 (12.5 oz) can white chicken breast, drained
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can green enchilada sauce
  • 1 4 oz. can green chilies
  • 14 oz. chicken broth
  • 1 packet taco seasoning

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients into freezer bag.
  2. Freeze flat.

Cooking:

  1. Thaw overnight in refrigerator.
  2. Heat in pot until warm. OR
  3. Heat in crockpot on high 3-4 hours.
  4. Serve with tortilla chips, cheese and sour cream.

Baked Ziti (From the Pioneer Woman)

  • 2 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • One 28 oz. can whole tomatoes
  • One 24.5 ounce jar marinara sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 lb. pasta (cooked until not quite al dente)
  • One 15 oz. container ricotta cheese
  • 1 ½ lb. mozzarella cheese, grated
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  1. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, sausage, and ground beef
  2. Cook until meat is totally browned. Drain off and discard most of the fat from the pot, leaving a bit behind for flavor and moisture.
  3. Add tomatoes, marinara, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, ½ tsp. of the salt and ½ tsp. of the pepper.
  4. Stir to combine, then simmer the sauce for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Place the pasta in a large bowl and ladle in 3 cups of the sauce mixture
  6. Toss to coat the noodles. Set aside to cool.
  7. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, 2 cups of the grated mozzarella, the parmesan, egg, parsley and the remaining ½ tsp. of the salt and pepper.
  8. Stir the mixture together until combined. Toss the cheese mixture in with the sauce-and-pasta mixture. Do not over mix. You want to have some big chunks of the cheese mixture.
  9. Add half the pasta to a large casserole dish or disposable foil pan.
  10. Spoon half the remaining sauce over the top.
  11. Then top with half the remaining mozzarella. Repeat with another round of pasta, sauce and mozzarella.
  12. Let casserole cool and cover and label for freezer.
  13. Freeze for up to 6 months.
  14. To bake, place the frozen casserole straight into a 350 degree oven, still covered, for 1 hour 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes more, until hot and bubbly.
  15. OR Thaw the casserole in the refrigerator for 24 to 36 hours, until completely thawed. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until bubbling and lightly browned. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Shopping list:

  • Olive oil
  • 3 large onion, diced
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 2 lb. Italian sausage
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 lb. ground turkey (or ground beef)
  • 2 lbs. pork roast (rib meat or loin)
  • 4-6 pork chops
  • 4-6 chicken breasts
  • One 28 oz. can whole tomatoes
  • 2 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • Three 24.5 ounce jar marinara sauce
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbs. mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tsp. black pepper, plus more to taste
  • ½ tsp. garlic salt
  • ¼ tsp. onion salt
  • ½ tsp. chili powder
  • 1 lb. pasta (cooked until not quite al dente)
  • One 15 oz. container ricotta cheese
  • 1 ½ lb. mozzarella cheese, grated
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons minced parsley
  • Basil, to taste
  • Oregano, to taste
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 cup and 1 Tbs. brown sugar
  • 2 ½ cup Coke
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 4 oz. can dice green chilies
  • 10 oz. mild red enchilada sauce
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1 dry Ranch dressing mix
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 14 oz. chicken broth
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can chicken breast
  • 1 can green enchilada sauce

 

 

 

All my love to Orlando

When I heard about Orlando, it was dark outside.

Once again, I woke up to the news of a deadly mass shooting.

As the sunlight filled my windows, I tried to carry on like it was a normal day. That’s what you do when you hear news like this. You carry on with a prayer in your heart.

But it’s a displaced sense of normal. Because somewhere, this time in a place I once called home, hundreds of families are suffering.

I’ve offered tearful prayers for the victims and their families today. I’ve held my sweet daughter a little closer.

Tonight, just as the sunlight started to cast shadows, we took a walk outside our home. She laughed as we picked a dandelion and blew it’s white, feathery seeds into the wind.

She will be one this month.

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She knows nothing of the sorrow that is being felt around the world today.

As I watched her eyes light up with excitement, I thought of my Savior.

He was very clear about how he felt about children. Prophets of old have taught similar doctrine.

“Becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”

We could all be a bit more like the sweet child I carried in my arms tonight.

Kind. Humble. Full of love.

We need more of that in this world.

Because on days like today, I am sadly reminded of all the hate that threatens to ruin all the things we hold dear.

Because the tragedy that happened in Orlando didn’t just target our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community.

It’s an attack on anyone who has ever felt different. Anyone who has ever felt like they don’t belong. It’s an attack on anyone who feels that their differences make them a target.

Today, hate may have dominated a battle, but love MUST win the war. Love, kindness, compassion. I am fully convinced that it’s these things – things my daughter teaches me every day – they will be the ones to save us.

To my LGBT brothers and sisters in Orlando, Rexburg, England and everywhere in between, I stand with you. I love you. I have wept with you today.

To those who feel alone, defeated or afraid, I uphold you.

Though hate has been the discussion of the day, let us make the focus of our lives compassion. Concern for our neighbors. Simply, love.

The shadows of twilight are my favorite time of day. But tonight, they remind me that there are many who still hide, waiting for love and kindness to brighten their day.

I hope to always be a light.

For now, Orlando, you are in my heart.