An open letter to my students

 

I don’t talk openly about this chapter of my life too often.

When I do, it’s often for a well-timed, calculated purpose.

This time, it’s because a little voice in the corner of my heart kept telling me to share.

I am an adjunct professor at Brigham Young University-Idaho. I love my job. I love my students.

One of the things I love most about them is their strength. It astounds me.

And not just physical strength. I’m talking mental strength.

I see so many student who carry tremendous loads and do so with grace and dignity. They bear the burden of anxiety. They trudge through the trenches of depression. They rise from the ashes of their pasts as pure, refined and triumphant champions.

But the scars are still there. And sometimes, the wounds are too deep to ignore.

I get it. I mean I really, really get it.

I’ve struggled with mental illness my entire life.

I’ve been on and off medications, in and out of day treatments, even hospitalized twice as a young teenager for suicide attempts.

But I am not my past.

We are not our bleakest moments, whether those moments are locked on a replaying loop or ended years ago.

A 2013 study by the American College Health Association showed that among a sample of college students, 57 percent of women and 40 percent of men reported feeling “overwhelming anxiety.” Additionally, 33 percent of women and 27 percent of men reported experiencing debilitating depression.

The statistics of those who suffer are staggering.

If you do struggle with mental illness — and I pray that you don’t — know that there are dozens of good, strong, successful people who have felt what you feel and walk where you have walked.

They love you and support you.

I love you and support you.

Though my life is highly flawed, I thank God every day for how it turned out.

I’ve come so far, pushed so hard and prayed so fervently to fight this monster.

Often it is a daily battle to choose peace and joy rather than succumbing to the darkness that always threatens to cast a shadow over my life.

And as one that has swum in the deep side of despair, I want you to know that I believe in you. I believe in your strength to shoulder these heavy burdens.

You are doing better than you think.

Don’t be ashamed of your challenges. As cliche as it sounds, they really can mold you.

One of the greatest things I’ve learned from mental illness is my capacity to withstand challenges.

Allow the demons to refine you, not define you.

You are worth your struggles. You are worth your fight.

I know this because you’ve sat in my classrooms. We’ve chatted in my office. I’ve seen your strength, your triumph and your endurance.

Keep fighting.

Thank you teaching me what it means to press forward.

Let’s fight together.

 

 

How you can help the refugee crisis

I haven’t had a thought take hold of me so strongly in a while.

In fact, I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt this compelled to do something.

My church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has recently encouraged its members to aid in the worldwide refugee crisis. You may have heard of the #iwasastranger initiative that encourages women and families in and out of the Mormon faith to lend a hand of aid to our brothers and sisters in need.

I felt helplessly compassionate toward the millions of displaced families that are endeavoring to find safety and refuge in the most dire of ways. But what could I do?

So instead of doing anything, I found myself feeling sad as I scrolled past photos of shivering children crammed too tightly into large boats. Their eyes pleaded for help I didn’t know how to give.

Finally, something inside of me switched when I was sitting in the General Women’s session of the LDS General Conference.

Some familiar words have kept coming back to mind as I’ve tried to change my paradigm from helpless to helping.

“I’m not my brother’s keeper, but I am my brother’s brother.”

These people are my brothers and sisters and I have made a covenant with God to mourn with them, comfort them, serve them.

Now to do it from some umpteen thousand miles away.

I just have to start. We all do. We are called to lift the hands that hang down in whatever capacity we may be able to.

This refugee crisis is a pressing one with more than 60 million refugees displaced from their homes worldwide.

Eric and I have started a group in Rexburg called Rexburg for Refugees. Our goal is to help others know how they can help and assist them in their efforts to do so.

Each week, Eric and I will pick up in-kind donations needed from the International Rescue Committee in Salt Lake City. We will gather, sort and transport the donations to the IRC in Salt Lake. We are so passionate about finding ways to help and hope you will share in our desire to serve.

If you’d like to get involved, email us at rexburgforrefugees@gmail.com or text us.

Eric – 480-570-0503 or Emmilie – 707-672-3899

Here is a link to a list of donation items the IRC is in need of.

Please share our Rexburg for Refugee page of our blog and this Facebook page.

Be sure to check back on the Wit Logs for regular updates about donation events and drives in Rexburg and updated lists for what to donate.

Thank you for your service and support. We love you!

“For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; Naked, and ye clothed me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” – Matthew 25:35-36

3 things hate taught me about love

Let’s talk about hate.

There seems to be a lot of it swimming around lately. A few weeks ago, it showed up in a place I hoped it wouldn’t. This blog.

I recently wrote a post about pornography and my family’s stance against it where I stated we are fighters against this new drug. The hateful comments began to pour in and quite frankly, they were shocking. And painful. And discouraging.

Continue reading “3 things hate taught me about love”

I took my first sip of poison today

Tonight I took my first sip of poison.

It started out harmless, really. All I did was click on the first result that popped up from a quick Google search.

That’s all it took for the poison to enter my brain.

Pornography.

At first, all I could register was confusion. What in the world was I looking at?

And then my confusion morphed into horror as I understood. All I felt was revulsion and the need to put as much distance between myself and the filth as possible.

I muted the computer and lowered the laptop screen, still sitting in a state of shock.

“Did you just find porn?” my husband asked me. My reaction, combined with the awful sounds from the website, shocked him.

Continue reading “I took my first sip of poison today”

The untold truth of every Momcation

I am currently in Denver at a very geeky journalism conference. Go NICAR.

It’s the second trip I’ve taken away from my sweet babe, Bellamy. She’s almost 9 months old and she is the dearest darling you’ll ever meet.

Here’s proof.

IMG_3505

See?

Now, I love this girl more than most things.

But sometimes, you need a vacation from being a mom. Continue reading “The untold truth of every Momcation”

4 things I learned about revelation while desperately seeking it

It’s been one of those weeks where I’ve laughed until I’ve cried and cried until I’ve laughed. It’s been wrenchingly emotional and highly stressful.

But as my good husband has recently reminded me, that’s just how I operate. I always have a million irons that I’ve happily thrown into the fire, and some nights (normally Thursdays) it comes out in break-down form.

What I’ve learned all these years of being an over-involved-over-acheiver, is that well, I’m still learning. A LOT.

Luckily, I have the best network of people surrounding me and cheering me on, including God. This week, as my stress level hit critical mass, I decided to seek refuge in the temple. I had lots of questions, and I just knew God would answer all of them. Why? Because I desperately needed answer. I had tried everything on my own, and now was begging for help from on high.

But that’s not how it works. At least it wasn’t for me this week. Instead of having a steady stream of blue-print like instructions from the Lord outlining my path, I received something else entirely. Continue reading “4 things I learned about revelation while desperately seeking it”

I won’t love myself for my daugther

 

Before my daughter was born, I had an epiphany.

Or so I thought.

I had always struggled to speak kindly toward myself. As I prepared to give birth to my first child, I decided to make some changes. Continue reading “I won’t love myself for my daugther”