The 21st Night of September

Do you remember the 21st night of September?

Probably not.

But I most certainly do.

It has become a day I will never forget.

You see, once upon a time, we really, really wanted a baby. But we couldn’t get a baby the way regular folks do (via the stork, of course).

So, we decided to take a stroll down IVF lane, if you catch my drift.

I’m talking In Vitro Fertilization.

You might have heard of it.

Pokes, prods, pills. Months and months of prep. Grow some eggs. Extract some eggs. Do a little mixy mixy. Make some embryos. Freeze ’em real good like. Put them back where they came from. Hope they grow.

The whole nine yards.

Our first try — no good. We put two of our very best into my “beautiful” uterus (a real quote from my doc). Unfortunately, we lost both of them.

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One boy, one girl.

Our hearts were broken.

We knew God wanted us to have kiddos, and we were trying our darndest to get them here.

Why wasn’t it working? What more could we do?

Through the grief and confusion, we held onto hope.

We were quickly reminded that God had a plan for us, and He was very mindful of our struggle. We decided to re-visit IVF, and things fell into place very quickly.

Which leads me to the day I will never forget—September 21, 2018.

This was the day we hoped and prayed for. This was the day we prepared and worked for. This was the day we took a leap of faith and tried again.

This was Transfer Day.

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Once again, we took two of our finest embryos out of hibernation and hoped for the best.

One boy, one girl.

And this time, it worked.

This was the day I became pregnant with my baby girl.

This was the day I started carrying my little sweetheart, Riley.

While my heart still grieves the three little embryos that never made it, my life is forever changed by the little (but mighty) one that did.

Do you remember the 21st night of September? … Our hearts were ringing’ in the key that our souls were singin’ as we danced in the night. Remember how the stars stole the night away? … Remember how we knew love was here to stay? – Earth, Wind & Fire

Chapter 2: Sowing Seeds

“Find hope here on the ground, sowing seeds, even while waiting.” – Morgan Harper Nichols

The Waiting Game

There I was, nervously staring at a pregnancy test.

Be positive, I thought (pun intended).

As I paced back and forth, an image of an old grandpa popped into my head saying, “A watched pot never boils.”

I decided to re-read the test instructions, fearing I’d misinterpret it somehow.

One pink line, no preggo.

Two pink lines, preggo.

Got it.

After waiting a full three minutes, which seemed like eternity by the way, I hesitantly reached for the flimsy little stick that held my fate.

I fully expected to see two beautifully, blossoming, pink lines.

And yet, there stood only one line.

My heart dropped a little.

But we’re only one month in!

There’s plenty of time!

Besides, things don’t always happen right away!

But if I’m being honest, I kind of expected it to happen after the first try with the powerful prompting we received. I kinda sorta thought God wanted things to get rolling!

Oh well.

Next month will be a new month.

I will google all the things I need to know, and we’ll have success, for sure!

Spoiler alert: we did not have success.


The Unhealthy Narrative

Month after month, test after test, we were unsuccessful.

We knew it’d happen when it was supposed to. God was in charge. But every now and then, I couldn’t help but get a little melancholy.

I think the hardest part for me was realizing JJ eagerly awaited the news, hoping for it to be positive … hoping I would emerge with a smile and say, “WE’RE HAVING A BABY!”

Perhaps we would hug, cry happy tears, go out to celebrate and even come up with a hilarious idea of how we’d tell our families.

Oh, how I longed for that to be our reality.

“Some of the greatest sorrows we experience can be prevented by learning to let go of the unhealthy narrative in our heads of how it should be.” – Emily

I finally mustered up the courage to leave the bathroom.

Looking into JJ’s bright, blue eyes (which were full of hope) I gave him the news.

“It’s negative.”

I even managed to add in a shoulder shrug and a half smile. I thought it best to disguise the true depth of my disappointment. The last thing I wanted to do was add to his sorrow.

But in reality, it’s always better to be open and honest about our feelings. It’s OK to admit when we’re not operating at 100 percent. It’s not noble to suffer alone; we were never meant to suffer alone. Even if our suffering seems trivial.

“I’m sorry, sweetheart. We’ll try again next month,” he’d say.

And yet next month brought a familiar thin pink line that was determined to be my new BFF.


The Silver Lining

While we were becoming ever familiar with disappointment, we had something really great going for us—our love.

I can’t brag enough about Mr. JJ LeMoine. He’s my strong and steady. He laughs at most of my dumb jokes. Sometimes, he even cleans the kitchen!

He’s one of the best men I’ve had the honor to meet in this life. Lucky for me, he thought I was pretty rad, too.

At the end of the day, we had each other … and that was pretty special in and of itself.

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I was loving my classes at school; JJ was trying to love his classes at school. Both of us were serving in our church callings. (In our church, a “calling” is a volunteer assignment given by the Bishop or another leader in our ward. You can either accept it or decline it, but it’s considered to be given through inspiration.) I was a leader in the women’s organization, and JJ was a children’s music leader.

We were also killing it at Pinochle night with our family. (If you play Pinochle, we’re currently taking applications for game night partners.)

Near the end of 2015, we took a journey down south to complete our internships in Arizona.

JJ took a second Engineering internship with a testing company called Intertek. I did my first Communication internship with the Arizona Republican Party.

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Other notable things from that fall include:

  • Our nephew, Roman, was born.
  • Girls trip to NYC.
  • First Packers game with my Dad.
  • Our first anniversary was spent in one of my favorite places–Show Low.

We wanted to enjoy our last bit of time together before introducing a baby into the mix, but we fully anticipated this baby would make an appearance very soon.

The thing is, we were wrong.

Our precious baby did not come soon.

Slowly, but surely, we came to realize that our plan and God’s plan looked very different from each other.


The Power of Hope

There is a lot more to our story than meets the eye. We are all a lot more complex than what appears on the surface.

While our story is a rollercoaster ride of emotions, full of ups and downs, twists and turns, I hope you know that it is a hopeful one.

There is always hope. 

No matter your situation, no matter what you’re going through.

“Hope is never lost.” – Jeffrey R. Holland

Hope has carried me through my darkest hour. Hope has given me the strength to press forward when my own strength had failed me. It has been the light to guide me, and it has lead me to greater faith in Christ.

What a powerful little friend hope can be.

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“Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.”

The Book of Mormon | 2 Nephi 31:20

Chapter 1: This Magic Moment

“In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.” – Abraham Maslow

Some moments define our story. Some moments forever alter our path.

This moment was one of those times.

And it felt like magic.


Backstory

If you can imagine an excited, ambitious girl ready to take on the world … that was me. I had more dreams than I could count.

I was about seven months into my latest and greatest adventure–marriage–while simultaneously attending college at Brigham Young University – Idaho.

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I was studying Communication, and my husband, JJ, was studying Mechanical Engineering.

I dreamt of:

  • Traveling the world
  • Finding adventure
  • Helping those around me
  • Discovering my true passion

But I wanted to do it all with my sweetheart by my side.

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One of the most important details in understanding this story, however, is this: I was on a constant search to find God’s plan for my life and follow it.

I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

At the very core of who I am is a deeply rooted belief that we are all sons and daughters of a loving God. I believe He cares enough about each one of us to lead and guide us on this crazy journey.

I turn to Him in prayer for everything; my relationship with Him means everything.

Which leads me to our magical moment in July of 2015.


Let’s Go to the Temple | July 2015

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On a beautiful, summer day in July, JJ and I decided to go to the Rexburg Idaho Temple and attend an Endowment Session.

(For more information on Latter-day Saint Temples & Endowments, click here)

This sacred moment was 4.5 years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday.

There I was, watching an instructional video about the creation of the world, when the Spirit taps me on the shoulder, as if to say, “Pay attention.”

I sit up in my seat a little bit.

Uh oh. What’s coming next? I thought.

Just then, Adam and Eve are given a commandment to “multiply and replenish the earth.”

I suddenly feel the Spirit pierce my soul. My heart grew increasingly warm. Tears began to well-up in my eyes as the following words came to my mind:

Now is the time to start your family.

The feeling I had next was overpowering, and I felt the Holy Ghost confirm these words in my heart.

As these intense feelings began to fade, my mind began to race with thoughts of worry.

But… but… I just got married!

I have so many things I need to do first!

What about school, career, traveling to Europe?!

Was I even cut out to be a mother?

And yet, the unmistakable impression I received could not be shaken. It felt as though I could concentrate on nothing else for the duration of my time inside those sacred walls.


The Conversation

Leaving the temple that day (and feeling more than a little reluctant to share my news), I searched for ways to casually bring it up to JJ.

Nonchalantly, I asked, “So… umm… did you have any impressions come to you today?”

This isn’t an unusual question for me to ask, as members of the Church believe that the Spirit, or the Holy Ghost, can speak to our minds & hearts the things God wants us to hear. Especially within the walls of the temple.

A little hesitantly, JJ replied, “Yeah, I did.”

Whether it was the tone of his voice, my own suspicion, or my keen sense of discernment, in that instant, I knew we had the same impression.

I just knew that he knew what I knew. You know? I could feel it.

“I already know what you’re going to say, so just say it,” I insisted.

“No, you say it first!” he pleaded.

We were both smiling.

In the end, I won the battle of who is most stubborn.

“I felt prompted that we should try to have kids,” he said.

Boom.

There it was, out in the open, frolicking to and fro.

Were we really going to have kids?!?!

I was nervous, scared, terrified, overwhelmed … but also a tad bit excited.

Later that day, we had an honest and tender conversation of the reality of what we both experienced. We expressed our worries and concerns, but ultimately, we each expressed a desire to follow God’s plan for us.

Even if that meant postponing our own desires and dreams for the moment.

We felt peace. We knew it was right. We decided to trust Him.


Moving Forward

There is a song that has followed me around throughout my 20s. It always manages to catch me at just the right moment. God puts it on my playlist exactly when I need to hear it. It goes like this:

It may not be on the mountain height
Or over the stormy sea,
It may not be at the battle’s front
My Lord will have need of me.
But if, by a still, small voice he calls
To paths that I do not know,
I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in thine:
I’ll go where you want me to go.
I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord,
Over mountain or plain or sea;
I’ll say what you want me to say, dear Lord;
I’ll be what you want me to be.

This song accurately depicts how I felt in this moment. Perhaps you can relate.

  • He had just called me to a path I knew nothing about.
  • It was NOT the path I had planned for myself.
  • The future seemed very unclear.

But I was willing to go … and so was JJ.

Little did we know what lie in store. Little did we know the grand journey we were about to embark on.

In that moment, taking His hand, I knew we’d be OK. I knew He would take care of us.

“Trust in God and believe in good things to come.” – Jeffrey R. Holland

Reaching Up for Help

Joseph Smith once said, “It seems as though the adversary was aware, at a very early period of my life, that I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom; else why should the powers of darkness combine against me?” (Joseph Smith—History 1:20).

I have always related to that sentiment.

Click here to read the full story I shared with @AwaitingRainbows blog: “Even Warriors Need Rescuing”

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Over these last few weeks, I did something that took courage. I finally wrote down part of my true journey. Not the one everyone has witnessed – the one I have witnessed.

Emma from Awaiting Rainbows (@awaitingrainbows) asked me about a month ago to share part of my story on her blog. I was BEYOND excited that she’d ask me.

At the time, I thought, “I’ll share about IVF. That’ll be perfect.”

As time went forward, I got the impression that I needed to go a different route … I needed to tell a story that not many knew about me, something deeper beneath the surface.

A little hesitantly, I asked God, “And you want me to share this publicly?”

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I’ve spent my life trying to put forward the best version of myself at all times, so to expose my not so perfect moments left me feeling overly-uncomfortable and a tad vulnerable.

But God was pretty sure I needed to share it.

So I did.

*I’ll just go to yonder bush and hide for a wee bit.*

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I was nervous for EVERYONE to read this blog, but especially my mom. I didn’t want her to feel guilty for not knowing. She was a great mom and incredibly supportive. However, she felt pretty baffled that she never knew what I was going through.

high school cheer - emily with momBut how could she have? It was my best kept secret.

It left me thinking, how many others out there, like me, have struggles and battles that they keep hidden, perhaps for their entire lives?

I think far too many of us do. And on that note, far too many parents, friends and family are left wondering, “How did I not know?”

Once I finally mustered up the courage to speak to my mom on the matter (via text message, of course), I received an outpouring of love. When for years, I was positive I would receive quite the opposite reaction. This meant the world to me.

To parents, spouses, siblings, friends – Can you go home today and let your loved ones know just how much you love them? Can you show them that it’s OK to open up and share hard things? Can you help to create an environment where they feel safe and loved unconditionally?

To those facing battles of any kind – You are loved beyond measure, and you are not alone.

There are parts of us we keep hidden so securely, scared to reveal in fear of judgement and ridicule. The idea of opening up and sharing is probably out of the question and overwhelming to consider.

But no matter how hard it may seem, opening up to someone you trust about your hidden battles will help you tremendously. It will lighten your load and ease the heavy burden you’ve been carrying alone for so long. It will help you to heal, grow and move forward.

Pray for the courage you need, then act.

Your load is never too heavy for the Savior of the world to bear. He will pull you from the darkest abyss and carry you home simply because He loves you.

“Because He loves you, He will find you. He will place you upon His shoulders, rejoicing. And when He brings you home, He will say to one and all, “Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.'” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

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Revealing even a sliver of our true experience requires a considerable amount of courage. My courage was sprung forth by a desire to help someone else who might feel lost, alone or broken.

I hope that in sharing this part of myself, this part of my journey, someone else can have a little more hope today.

Please give it a read, let me know what you think! Then share it with someone who may need it!

Click here to read the full story I shared with @AwaitingRainbows blog: “Even Warriors Need Rescuing”

The Imperfect, Giant, Jagged Mass of Rocks

Roll with me for a minute.

I want you to imagine the most perfect, beautiful mountain range that you can.

What are its defining characteristics? What makes it so beautiful?

Is it the variety of high arching peaks, or is it the steep, rolling hillsides? Is it the snow covered slopes, the scattered pine trees, or is it the rigged edges that dance along the skyline?

Whatever you see, I think it’s safe to say we each envision our own perfect mountain. I’m particularly partial to the fine mountain ranges of Idaho, myself.

But the reality is – it’s quite impossible to imagine a perfect mountain.

A mountain, by definition, is an imperfect, giant, jagged mass of rocks. (Feel free to look that up in Webster’s Dictionary.)

Why then are mountains so beautiful!? Is it fair to say that their beauty lies in their unique imperfections?

I daresay, yes.

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I always find beauty in things that are odd & imperfect. They are much more interesting. – Marc Jacobs

Quite honestly, this blog post has been in the making for (give or take) a hundred years …

OK, that’s an exaggeration. But you get the gist.

I’ve felt for a long time that I needed to start a blog. I wanted to create a place where I could not only share personal experiences, quirky anecdotes and thoughts on issues, but also a place where I can uplift, shed light on spiritual topics and highlight people who are doing epic things – a place where church and state could cohabitate, so to speak.

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But how the heck do you do that?!

Every time I’ve tried, I couldn’t come up with a way to make it happen. The idea was easy to come by, but the execution has seemed daunting.

I’ve been swarmed with thoughts like:

  • What direction are you going to take?
  • What if no one reads it?
  • Doesn’t everyone have a blog now?
  • What about a logo?
  • And what fonts will you use?!?

AHHH! The horror!

I’d shake my Magic 8 Ball, hoping for a sure answer, and receive the typical – IDK. Ask again later.

So month after month, year after year, I have been putting off this prompting to start the dang blog. Although, a quick glance at the notes app on my beloved iPhone and you’d notice it’s chuck full of ideas that I should research and write about … you know, tomorrow of course!

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However, I haven’t known how to organize my thoughts or muster up the courage to follow through.

At the beginning of this month, I was at a women’s conference called SALT LDS Retreat. I had been chosen as a speaker and was given the incredible opportunity to remind a large group of women how amazingly awesome they are. It was epic.

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I literally stood before 100+ women and told them to tap into their warrior roots! All they needed to do was to discover what makes them unique and then take action. Yes, it would require a lot of stretching, but God needs us to rise up and shine our lights. And he’ll help us every step of the way. (I’ll post more on this lesson at a later date.)

Little did I know that I was also giving myself a giant pep talk.

Here I was, preaching about being fearless, and yet I was cowering.

How can I stand up there and say all these things while continually putting off the clear impressions I’ve had to start a blog?

I’ve decided I need to take my own advice and take flight on this beautiful journey.

And thus, my blog is born, imperfections and all.

So I’ll finish writing this post, and then I’ll gather up the courage to actually press the post button. And then I’ll cringe because it’s not edited, it’s not perfect, and it’s not showcasing me in the best light possible. I might even have the thought to delete it. But for now, “I’m just doing the da[ng] thing,” as the lovely Becca Kufrin would say.

It’s going to be imperfect; it’s not going to be up to my standard of perfection.

But that’s OK.

Because I’m pressing forward! Hizzah! And if my calculations are correct, it can be an imperfect, giant, jagged mass of rocks and still be beautiful!

We don’t have to be fast; we simply have to be steady and move in the right direction. We have to do the best we can, one step after another … The only thing you need to worry about is striving to be the best you can be. And how do you do that? You keep your eye on the goals that matter most in life, and you move towards them step by step … That is easy enough. We don’t have to be perfect today. We don’t have to be better than someone else. All we have to do is to be the very best we can. – Joseph B. Worthlin

I’ve decided to no longer be halted by doubt, fear, indecision or perfectionism. I’m going to try my darnedest to fearlessly pursue this bad boy. The details will work themselves out with time.

But if I wait until it’s polished and perfect, it will simply never come to light. It will be hidden away with all my good intentions in the notes of my cell phone for always and eternity. (The ultimate Madame Zeroni curse.)

No matter how imperfect you think you are, no matter how small your testimony is, no matter how old, young, unworthy or unqualified you feel … You make a difference! You have talents, gifts and abilities that qualify you to lead, lift and love only as you can. 

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I know that God needs us today, as we are, imperfections and all.

So take that chance. Embrace that quirk. Listen to that prompting. Write that blog post. Press the “post” button.

Follow what your heart is saying … even when you’re totally winging it!

He see’s the bigger picture, and He will guide you every step of the way.

He will help you to create a perfectly imperfect life full of breathtakingly beautiful mountain ranges, valleys and vistas.

And most importantly, you will be in a position to help other people along their crazy, unique journey.

‘Cause by golly, we’re all imperfect. But we all have a song that needs to be sung, and we all have an important contribution to make.

The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream. – Les Brown