Monday, June 19, 2017

Return of the Intern.

Do you remember when I graduated from BYU in April 2009? I blogged about it here, in case you need a refresher.

That was the last time I set foot in Utah.

Crazy, right? The place of my birth, the place of my people, the place of my alma mater and yet I haven't had cause to return for the past eight years. Until now.

And, I'm pretty stoked about it!

The choir I sing with (Millennial Choirs and Orchestras) is performing in six (SIX!!) concerts at the historic Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City this week, and as such I am hauling myself to Utah to join them. ALONE.

Yes, a trip for me, by myself, no spouse, no kids -- just me, navigating the Beehive State like the legit adult I supposedly am. I'm also renting my first AirBnb (LOOK AT HOW CUTE IT IS!!!) and my first car. Which kind of makes me nervous, but I'm sure it will be fine, right? Please tell me I can't screw this up.

Aside from enjoying SLC, I'm excited to see my sister Mariah and take a gander at the BYU campus because I hear it's changed a whole lot since I was there. And, let's be honest -- I miss BYU. Sometimes, I long for the sunny, pristine atmosphere of BYU. It's like the Disneyland of college campuses. Everyone is nice and good-looking, the landscaping is perfection and it's not uncommon for a group of students to bust out in song, Broadway musical-style.

(A lot of people there also live in Fantasy Land, but that's another gripe for another blog post.)

Anyway, I am excited to report back about the AirBnb experience and tell you all about my travels, but I need some help from you! I'm going to be eating out a LOT during the week, and I value high-quality food experiences, so give me your dining suggestions from Provo to Salt Lake City! Especially sushi, because Mariah and I have this tradition where we get sushi together any chance we get, and we're definitely going while I'm there. Fire away!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Friday Favorites: Basic Invite

Last year about this time, I was helping host a baby shower for my sister, Sarah, who was welcoming her baby girl, Ivy, into the world. I was in charge of the invitations, which is fine because I know my way around Photoshop. But, I soon realized designing the invitations myself was a bit of a time-suck and I wished there was a web site where I could order something cute, modern and affordable that would be sent right to me, envelopes and all.

Enter Basic Invite!

invitations, printables, stationery, baby shower invites

This site has it ALL. Not only are their templates beautiful, but you can customize the color of any element to your liking! With over 180 color options to choose from, you can't go wrong with the design of your invitation or announcement. This is HUGE for me as I have very particular tastes and sometimes, though I might adore a specific template, I might not be crazy about the default color scheme. Problem solved!

Speaking of colors, Basic Invite also offers 40 different colors of envelopes you can choose from! Say, what?! I don't know about you, but when I get a bright aqua or coral pink envelope in the mail, I'm super-excited to see what's inside. Plus, these envelopes are peel-and-seal, so you don't have to lick any disgusting adhesive. And you know it's going to stay shut!

Also, if you're skeptical of your computer monitor and want to know exactly how your invites will turn out, you can order a sample. No need to doubt how the finished product will look when you can see for yourself ahead of time! By the way, Basic Invite is one of few online stationery companies to offer this service.

The last (and probably coolest) feature of Basic Invite I want to mention is their free address collection service! Request your addresses with just three simple steps -- share a link with your recipients, collect their addresses, and get free envelope printing, too. Nice!

Ok, check out some of these adorable customized baby shower invitations. Sure would've come in handy for me last year! Remember, you can change the color of any element, as you can see in this screenshot:

If you want to keep the invitation gender-specific, you can search the templates for baby boy shower invites or girl shower invites. Save you the hassle of having to sort through yourself! I absolutely adore these.

And you'll definitely want to check out the luxury birth announcements for when Baby makes his or her debut! Stunning!

Of course, a year later, you'll be needing those 1st birthday invites for Baby's 1-Year Bash! Some of those are just too cute for words -- check them out for yourself! And on that note, I can't believe my sweet niece Ivy already turned 1 this week. Where does the time go?!

Hurry on over to Basic Invite to see the rest of their beautiful designs. Use code '15FF51' to save 15% on your order!

This post is sponsored by Basic Invite. As usual, the expressed opinions are 100% mine.

Friday, May 12, 2017

To the motherless children on Mother's Day -- I see you now.

First Mother's Day without my mom.

I've tried not to think about it. Tried to busy myself with other things. Tried to play it cool.

But last Sunday, as I listened to the children in my church congregation practice the Mother's Day songs they will be singing to the whole ward in two days, I felt that familiar lump rise up in my throat, the burning tears forming at the corners of my eyes. Look down. I tried to breathe calmly, but the breaths became faster and more frantic, like I was smothering. I felt like a child myself.

How am I going to get through this day?

Last Mother's Day is not a fond memory, either. My mom had just been through a week of radiation and had lost control of her bowels, couldn't keep any food or water down, and was an emotional wreck. We brought her gifts of pajamas and a "grabber" she could use to reach objects on the floor since she couldn't bend over anymore. My dad compiled a nostalgic collage of photos of us with our mom -- a collage that we'd later see again when she died.

Things looked grim last year, and I found myself knowing deep down it would be the last Mother's Day with Mom.

2016 was a year of "lasts," and 2017 is a year of firsts. First Easter. First birthdays. First Halloween (her favorite holiday). First Thanksgiving. First Christmas.

First Mother's Day.

Without her.

My past self honestly (and shamefully) never considered how the motherless must feel on this day. I was blind to their pain. But this year, it's all I can think of. The day hasn't even come, yet I'm agonized already. I regret that I ignorantly went about my life before, not stopping to think about those who struggle on Mother's Day.

If you will be motherless this Sunday, just know I see you now. I see your trepidation as you enter the chapel at church, avoiding glances and dreading conversation. I see that single tear rolling down your cheek during the Mother's Day song. I see you wanting nothing more than to run away. I see the forced smile as your kids shower you with breakfast and handmade gifts. I see the memories behind your eyes, the ones clawing their way out as you will them to stay away, at least until you can be alone.

I see you now, and I know it hurts. If you want a hug, I'm here with my arms open. If not, just know that I'm in the boat with you -- the boat no one wants to be on. You can take comfort in my company.

This photograph features two objects that have provided me with peace lately. The first is the vase of pink carnations -- my mom's favorite flower. A friend brought them to me yesterday. She knew the upcoming holiday would be tough for me and thought of this easy yet profound way to let me know she cares. In my grief, I have appreciated the outreach of others more than anyone will know. Even the simplest gestures are incredibly helpful in healing my broken heart.

The second item is a print called "We Are All a Part of God's Family" by Caitlin Connolly. It depicts our Heavenly Parents and all of their beautiful children. I have found comfort in believing that whether my mother is on earth or beyond, she is mine for eternity, and that all of us have a Heavenly Mother who loves us beyond measure.

When I look at this gorgeous print, I think about how much my mom would've loved it. She is the one who taught me of Mother in Heaven as a child. It was her confidence in that doctrine that allowed me to never question it, and to never question the divinity within myself. Because of my mom, Heavenly Mother is as real to me as the rising of the sun.

Sunday is going to come and go. It will be painful in some ways and surprisingly easy in others, I'm sure. (These "firsts" are also kind of unpredictable.) I will honor my mother and the motherly figures in my life, both living and deceased. But I will also hold space for those who are hurting, because sometimes these wonderful days of celebration are painful. I've only just begun to understand. I just wish it hadn't taken 30 years.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Book Review: Worth the Wrestle

You may be wondering where I've been lately. Truth is, I've been struggling. I have never suffered a loss so impacting as that of my mother, and I am currently deep in the trenches of the grief experience.

I didn't realize it until now, but grief actually gets harder before it gets easier. A few months after the loss, you actually experience more pain than you did initially. I know this because not only am I living it first-hand, but I'm also currently in therapy where a professional counselor has helped me attach a name to what I'm going through and elucidate the whole process.

Side note: Psychological therapy is wonderful and everyone can benefit from it. I highly endorse it.


The first phase of grief is shock, and you tend to feel more numb than anything. You lose your appetite, you have emotional outbursts, but you're mostly in denial. It's a protection mechanism.

Once all the dust has settled, you're left in the protest phase, and that's where I am now. It's exactly what it sounds like. You are angry, you yearn for what is lost and you can barely think of anything else. You experience an increase in the shock symptoms mentioned above as well. On top of it, the physical effects of grief begin to take their toll. You feel extremely tired, you are in physical pain and you have a constant headache. You move into disorganization, and you can see above just how fun that phase is.

So, if you're wondering where the heck I've been, the short answer is at the bottom of a deep, dark pit of despair.

Naturally, a trying experience like this can easily result in a questioning of faith. I'm about to get real honest here, so be prepared.

Spiritually, I have felt torn between wanting to be my very best and continue to do all the right things so I can be centered with my Savior, who can continue to carry this burden for me. Also, there is a motivation to one day be worthy of being with my mom again, because there's no doubt she made it to heaven.

But another part of me -- the depressed part -- is too tired to go on. This part doesn't see the point in studying the word of God, attending church, praying or anything "churchy." This part of me is so exhausted, she just wants to cry, sleep, feel angry and do nothing. And often, this is what happens.

When a representative from Deseret Book reached out to me to review Sheri L. Dew's new book, Worth the Wrestle, I was hesitant to accept. Don't get me wrong -- I love Sister Dew and her inspired, prophetic words, and it seems like they always find their way to me whenever I need them. But I could tell by the title that I would feel moved to make some changes once I finished the book.

Problem was, I didn't know if I would be physically able to act on my impressions. See, depression is a tricky thing in that it immobilizes you from doing even the simplest tasks. So, I didn't want to open myself to receiving a spiritual prompting and then find myself unable to follow through with whatever it would require. Something to do with my perfectionism and fear of failure, I guess.

A little over a week ago, leaders of our stake came to our congregation to deliver sermons and lessons specifically targeted to our needs. I had been so frustrated with this new depression, as I drove myself to church that morning, I lamented out-loud. I said, "God ... I am going to church today, even though I don't want to. Please send me some comfort, peace -- anything so I  can know that this is all worth it."

I've found in my life that when I am very sincere in my prayers, I get answers. I know others may not experience this and I don't intend to pass judgment on them for their struggles. I can only speak for myself and for me, this is true. I consider it a spiritual gift, one I honestly do not tap into enough.

Within hours of asking, my prayer was answered. What topic did the stake president choose to address with the adult Sunday School? Was it something to make me feel even more inadequate, like the importance of scripture study, service, church and temple attendance, fulfilling callings -- all the things I had been struggling so mightily to understand their value?

No. His lesson was about depression. And not how it's some shameful, hush-hush thing tied to unworthiness, but how it's actually a common, widespread issue many people suffer with and how we need to be more open, understanding and loving in how we accept and manage it in our families and congregation.

We watched the video below and discussed it. Many people shared their personal experiences. I wanted to, but I couldn't. I could only sit with tears streaming down my face, fully knowing that God is aware of me and loves me.

Later, my mom's cousin Kimberly, the stake Relief Society president -- she leads the women's organization -- presented a lesson to us about the very concept Sister Dew addresses in her book. And actually, she specifically mentioned Worth the Wrestle, which was a big fat sign from God that I needed to just buck up and read the book.

So, I did. Amazingly and miraculously, I did. The book is short and written in a conversational way that makes it quite easy to read. You can just imagine Sister Dew sitting across from you in your living room, holding your hands and talking to you in a direct yet loving way. It feels like conversing to your best friend as you take in her poignant words.

The premise of the book is simple -- no one is going to pass through life without ever questioning what they believe. No one. Life is just hard, and the things we encounter will often confuse and deter us. But, it's what you do when you're in the midst of the refiner's fire that makes the difference. Do you acquiesce to your doubts, or do you wrestle with them? Wrestling requires humble seeking, studying and praying in earnest. It's difficult and uncomfortable.

Throughout the book, Sister Dew shares many heavy questions she's had regarding Church doctrine and history, and how she humbly searched, studied and prayed on repeat to get a personal witness from God on these matters. It's humbling and also encouraging to read how such a spiritual giant as Sheri Dew can have struggles akin to my own. It gives me hope that I can also find reassurance.

Chances are, you are also going through something that's causing your spiritual foundation to shake. Maybe it's a death, or divorce, or a health challenge, or a loved one who is causing you pain. If you're not struggling with something, you will be. It's just the nature of life. And when those storms come, you can be prepared. Worth the Wrestle asserts that not only can you come to grips with your faith amidst a crisis, but that it's worth it to hold onto it. It just requires you to do some serious legwork.

I now feel empowered to slowly but surely take those steps back toward God, back to those things that once brought me comfort and strength in difficult times before. I know I can do it, and I know my questions have merit. God is ready to answer them if I am willing to do the work.

I believe it's worth the wrestle.

This post is sponsored by Deseret Book. Expressed opinions are, as usual, 100 percent mine.

Friday, February 17, 2017

When breast ISN'T best: our baby formula story

“This giveaway is a partnership with Nakturnal, with a prize of a gift certificate."


Before I had my first baby, Audrey, I was certain I would do everything right. I would have a non-induced vaginal birth, I would never put my baby to sleep on her stomach, I would use all-natural soaps and detergents and I would for SURE breastfeed until she was at least year old.

Well, right off the bat I ended up with an emergency C-section. I should have known right then to scrap all my carefully-laid plans, but I clung to the rest of them. I truly wanted what was best for my baby, and I was determined to make it happen!

Within the first few weeks of Audrey's life, it became very apparent that my daughter wasn't tolerating my breast milk at all. Each time I would feed her, it would only be about 15 - 20 minutes before she would start screaming her head off in pain. She also threw up a LOT. I mean, Exorcist-style projectile vomiting every day. I couldn't keep up with it all.

In addition to the cracked, bleeding nipples and latching trouble that accompany newborn nursing, I was also recovering from a C-section and couldn't easily hold Audrey in the traditional cradle hold. That little problem further complicated things for us. She seemed to only want to eat from a bottle, so I started pumping a lot and this reduced my milk supply. Plus, she was still crying and throwing up frequently.

All these issues led to crying spells, exhaustion and immense guilt on my part. So, it wasn't long before we decided to switch Audrey to a non-lactose formula. As soon as Dillon and I made this choice for our daughter, things started looking up. My baby was suddenly happy and stopped upchucking every drop of milk she ate. She slept better and cried a lot less. And we all began to bond so well! It was clearly the right decision for us. And although I did breastfeed my next two children (and I LOVE breastfeeding), I am so glad baby formula allowed Audrey to thrive.

bottle feeding, formula feeding, baby formula

Since that experience, I have made a point never to make a mother feel guilty for choosing to formula-feed. It turns out, sometimes breast isn't best.

Of course, in theory it is. According to this WebMD article, breast milk contains "a nearly perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat -- everything your baby needs to grow." La Leche League International's Web site also asserts that breast milk is full of antibodies which allows it to support a baby's developing immune system. The human body is a living miracle!

But for some families, breastfeeding is either too difficult on the mother and/or the baby, or it's not possible due to food allergies, adoption, low milk production and a host of other factors. Thankfully, scientists have developed a solution to these problems -- baby formula! It really is a healthy alternative to breastfeeding and nothing to be ashamed about. (Also, science is cool, am I right?)

Today, there exists a wide array of baby formulas for a variety of needs. I remember staring at the massive wall of baby formula at the grocery store and having no clue where to start. It's always a good idea to consult with a pediatrician on matters like this, but is also a very thorough resource for helping you select the best baby formula for your child.

Speaking of, they're giving away a $50 gift card to their Web site, which you can use to purchase diapers (duh) as well as just about any other baby-related doo-dads! Serious when I say they have everything. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment telling me your favorite part of parenthood or taking care of babies. It's that simple! You can also earn an additional entry by sharing this post on Twitter. Please use the Rafflecopter widget below! The giveaway starts TODAY and ends in one week, on February 24 at midnight!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Love and loss.

I've started this blog post several times, not sure exactly how I want to proceed to tell the end of my mom's cancer story. I've decided that chronologically is probably the best way.

Thanksgiving 2016, my life changed forever. That day, I arrived at my parents' house early in the morning to help with Thanksgiving dinner. I knew my mom was pretty sick, which is why I was preparing dinner at their home and not my own as I did the year before. But I didn't fully grasp just how sick she was until that day.

I walked in to find a hospice bed in my parents' bedroom, a Do Not Resuscitate order on the fridge, and my mom, who looked nearer to death than she ever had before. Gauntly-thin with sallow skin, immobile, in pain.

I always knew that day would come, but I hadn't planned on it being so soon. My brother was newly-engaged, my sister had a new baby, Christmas was around the corner ... there were too many life events for my mom to miss if she were to die in the near future. Maybe this is just palliative care, I assured myself. She is going to get well enough to make it to the wedding in January. That's what she was saying, too. That's what we were all saying.

My dad, sisters and I pulled off Thanksgiving dinner that day for about two dozen people without a hitch - except for the 10 pounds of mashed potatoes that were accidentally prepared. My mom was able to come out and join the family for some of the time, but she mostly laid in her bed.

I went home that evening feeling all sorts of emotions -- fear, anxiety, sorrow, anger, guilt -- and the cycle of these emotions continued for weeks afterward. Physically, my stomach was wracked with near-constant pain and I wasn't sleeping. I was rock-bottom depressed.

The Christmas season came and went with Mom deteriorating rapidly. By mid-December, she was hardly eating and could not get out of bed without the assistance of a walker or wheelchair. We took our last family picture on December 17th and my sister and I had to dress her, style her hair and apply her make-up for her. She was very sick that day. We took the picture in my parents' front yard and my mom was only out of bed for about 20 minutes, yet the whole event took an enormous toll on her.

About a week later, on Christmas Day, Mom couldn't get out of her bed at all. We all gathered at her bedside to help her open her gifts -- things we all knew she wouldn't be able to use much or at all. She was so weak, she couldn't even remove tissue paper wrapping from a gift bag. I created a photo book for my parents as a Christmas gift, and I had to hold the book and read it to her as if she were a small child.

My heart was so broken for her, for my kids, my siblings and especially my dad. It was very apparent in that moment that we were all too young to be going through this.

A few days later, my mom's brother came to town to see her. At my dad's request, we gathered on New Year's Eve to discuss her funeral arrangements. The reality of the situation became even more harsh at that point and we were all very emotional.

The next day, January 1, we met up again at my parents' home to bless our sweet mother with peace and comfort in her final days and say our goodbyes while she was still lucid. That was easily the hardest thing I've ever gone through. No one wants to weep over their mother, the woman who bore them, cared for them and taught them all they knew. No one wants to watch their children lay across their grandmother's frail body to hug her for the final time.

The following day was my parents' 32nd wedding anniversary, so I stopped by for a visit then. In her frail voice, my mom slowly explained she'd eaten some Bahama Bucks shaved ice a little while before I came over. I asked her how she liked it, and she flashed me a thumbs-up. It wasn't long after that she became too tired to converse and fell asleep again.

We were able to see her a few more times during that week, but the last day she was fully lucid was Saturday, January 7. I had blocked out the whole day to spend at my parents' home and I'm so glad I did. My dad and I actually had some pretty good conversation with Mom that day. For some reason, she wanted me to administer her medications (she was picky about who she trusted), so I was able to give her some Dilaudid in a dropper just like a little baby and squirt some Biotene in her dry mouth. My dad noticed her ears were kind of dirty, so I swabbed them with a Q-tip. After I was done, she said "Thanks, Jenna" and I told her she was welcome, and she said "I'll talk to you soon."

That was the last thing she ever said to me. I left the room with a lump in my throat.

On Monday, she was completely incoherent. My dad and sisters said she hadn't been awake since the day before. I knew it would be soon. I delivered her burial clothes to the house -- a white temple dress worn by my Granny, her mother, many years before. It was the only thing small enough for her gaunt frame. The skirt and blouse she normally wore to the temple was far too big.

The next morning, at 4:00, I woke suddenly. A feeling of peace washed over me. I felt like my mom was probably drawing her final breaths at that time. I went back to sleep and woke a while later to find my phone ringing -- it was my dad. He told me Mom had passed away around 4:30. She was 55 years of age.

The days following her death were full of miracles large and small, many I don't feel I can discuss due to how sacred they are to me. From Tuesday to Friday, Dillon and I spent every day with my family, helping my dad with funeral arrangements and other household responsibilities. We ran errands, organized things, and talked a lot. We grew closer as a family than we ever have been.

Back at home, women in my church community were cleaning my floors and bathrooms, delivering meals and groceries, and taking care of my children. The doorbell rang with frequent flower deliveries. My phone and Facebook were flooded with messages of condolence, comfort and kindness. I have never gone through something so hard as losing my mother, but I have also never felt more loved and supported in my life. It is a precious gift I will always cherish, this feeling of being carried.

My mom's service last Friday was so beautiful and well-attended; she was loved by so many people. Again, it was a very difficult day, but it was made lighter and memorable because of the kindness of others. My parents' church congregation put together the most beautiful display of my mom's special things and photographs. They also prepared a beautiful luncheon with centerpieces of pink carnations, my mom's favorite flowers. My best friend compiled a slideshow of hundreds of pictures from my mother's life. My in-laws purchased a beautiful pink flower arrangement to accompany a large portrait of my mom at the front of the chapel.

When I was growing up, I never considered the possibility of my mom dying. Even until a few years ago, I thought Mom was invincible. Her cancer diagnosis two years ago woke me up to her mortality, and then, last week, I actually lost her. It seems impossible. I still catch myself wanting to call or text her several times a day, even though it's been about a month since she could even use her phone. My heart aches when I think of a future without her in it.

I do believe my mother is in a far better place now, doing very important work. I know she is looking out for us as the "pennies from heaven" have been raining down on us. And I know I will see her again.

However, it's still hard not having her here with us now.

But through this trial, I have learned more about love than I had in my 29 years of life. I learned that love means cleaning your mother's ears out while she is on her death bed. Love means going with your dad to the funeral home to help him choose your mom's casket. Love means watching your friend's toddler for hours while she spends time with her bereaved family. Love means bringing food and flowers and sincere condolences. Love means letting your friend sob on your shoulder. Love means attending her mother's funeral even though funerals are hard for you. Love means creating a beautiful arrangement of flowers for the casket because you care for her so much. Love means praying for your friend over the pulpit at church as she mourns the loss. Love means mourning with those who mourn and comforting those who need comfort.

Love is tender, kind-hearted, patient and without judgment.

I know, because I have felt it. And not just any old love, but charity -- the pure love of Jesus Christ.

I have experienced loss, and I will experience more, because that is part of life. But I have also experienced love in the purest form, and it has truly made the loss more bearable.

My mom's obituary:

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Friday Favorites: "We're With You"

This is a sponsored post. Expressed opinions are mine.
So, you all know I'm LDS (Mormon). As a kid, I had mixed feelings about General Conference, the twice-yearly meeting for all members of the Church where we receive counsel from our leaders. I liked that I could watch church in my pajamas on television (since the meeting is broadcasted), but it was EIGHT WHOLE HOURS of speakers spread out over the course of a weekend. I would often get so antsy and be ready for it to end by the time Sunday rolled around.

As a teenager, I started to enjoy it more as I found the messages more pertinent to me. But sometimes, I felt like I couldn't relate at all to the leaders I was listening to. They were all much older and I felt that they couldn't possibly understand what a young adult like myself was going through and the challenges I faced.

Recently, though, I've noticed an encouraging change of perspective from church leaders, especially regarding the social issues of young adults (or "millennials," I guess). I've observed an increased outreach from "them" to "us," a bridging of the gap, so to speak. And I love it.

I just received an opportunity to read and review a new book by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles called We're With You: Counsel and Encouragement from Your Brethren.

from Deseret Book

The book contains excerpts of speeches given by church leaders that pertain mostly to young adults in today's world. It's a unique concept I haven't really seen since President Gordon B. Hinckley released his book, Way to Be. President Hinckley led the LDS Church when I was a teenager and college student, and he always had a way with the youngsters.

Even though I'm an old married lady with three kids, I'm actually still young (not quite 30!), so a lot of  We're With You resonated strongly with me. Especially the parts about enduring challenges, because as you know, my mom has terminal cancer. Lately, it's been really hard; I'm not gonna lie. There's a reason I haven't talked about it much, and the reason is it's too painful and too sensitive an issue. I struggle for the better part of every day with the reality that my mom's days are numbered. The anxiety I suffer due to this struggle has created a variety of symptoms for me that are crippling. There is nothing fun about this, let me tell you.

I often bitterly wonder why my mom has to go through all this and why our family has been hit with this immense tragedy and suffering. When I started reading this book, I was in a very dark place and in desperate need of answers. So, I took great comfort in the words of Elder David A. Bednar, who said this in the section entitled, "When Blessings Are Delayed:"

I do not know why some people learn the lessons of eternity through trial and suffering—while others learn similar lessons through rescue and healing. I do not know all of the reasons, all of the purposes, and I do not know everything about the Lord’s timing ....

But some things I absolutely do know. I know we are spirit sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father. I know the Eternal Father is the author of the plan of happiness. I know Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. I know Jesus enabled the Father’s plan through His infinite and eternal Atonement. I know that the Lord, who was “bruised, broken, [and] torn for us” (“Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King,” Hymns, no. 181), can succor and strengthen “his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:12). And I know one of the greatest blessings of mortality is to not shrink and to allow our individual will to be “swallowed up in the will of the Father” (Mosiah 15:7).

So much of this book comforted me and reignited my faith in God and Jesus Christ. It was just what I needed. When I finished, I thought of my siblings who could all benefit from this great book. I thought of the teenage young women I used to work with at church who are now in college and dealing with the struggles mentioned in this book in their daily lives. I thought of my friends.

It's so refreshing to read the words of God's ordained leaders, curated just for me and people my age. I loved We're With You and recommend it to any millennial Mormon who feels like they could use a little extra nudge in life, someone to root for them and encourage them to keep going when things get tough.