My Saving Grace

This past week has been so up and down for me, and oh, how my emotions have been all over the place. But I read this fabulous post written by Douglas on rationalfaiths.com (you can read it here) about the challenges that come with infertility.

It's interesting, comforting, and humbling how God puts what you need right in front of you if your soul is receptive to it. "So... When you gonna have kids?" was a post that I needed to read and God put it there for me to find right when I needed it the most.
I sometimes forget that others have challenges, struggles, and trials of their own; especially when I am so caught up with what's going on in my life. It's nice when God offers a little perspective, a reminder that I am not alone. Not everyone will experience a trial in the same way, but we can relate to one another because like Douglas said in his post, "...the pain is very real. It's a crushing, discouraging, disheartening pain..." Because I have felt this pain, because my husband has felt this pain, we can empathize with those of you that are battling with infertility, miscarriages, not being able to conceive on the timeline you desire, etc. You, whoever you are, are not alone. Not only do you have the love and support from me and my husband, you have the love and support and even deeper understanding of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

In February, a month after I miscarried, I wrote about what I had experienced up until that point. At that time I thought I was okay; I was seeing God's hand in my life, but in all honesty I was simply putting a brave face on. Some days I still put a brave face on, but through all of this I have come closer to my husband, and more importantly: closer to God. In retrospect I have found that the most beautiful thing I have learned through all of this, is how the Atonement works on a much higher level than I originally understood. And in that lesson, I have found that the Atonement truly is my saving grace.

When I was taught of the Atonement growing up, it was always in the context of repenting and the taking of the Sacrament week to week. That was the basic understanding that I had and there have been many times when I have put the Atonement to use in my life through the application of repentance. They have been some of the harder times in my life, but those are stories that have already been told or will be told later. In this story, the Atonement became real in a way I have never before experienced. I finally was able to understand that not only did my Savior suffer because of my sins, but He suffered so that He would know exactly how I felt and how I am currently feeling. This is something that I can testify of with 100% surety, that Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, knows all the pain associated with our trials. Until my husband and I were struggling to get pregnant, until we miscarried, until the heartache we felt for the loss of our unborn child, until the tears that came with seeing babies everywhere and pregnant women everywhere, until all of this, I never realized the complexity and deepness of the Atonement. And yet, how simple it is at the same time. There is a beauty that comes with the Atonement, because now that I understand that He has felt my physical pain, my emotional pain, my mental pain, and all other pains I have felt; I also understand that He has felt my gratitude when someone has offered a shoulder to cry on or a strengthening embrace, He has felt my joy when my husband and siblings wiped away my tears, He has felt the peace I experienced when others have shared their experiences with me and my husband, and He has felt the comfort I have from knowing I am not alone. Isn't it beautiful that Jesus Christ felt more than just sorrow and suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane? He felt happiness, gratitude, peace, and a multitude of other emotions. Through the Atonement, Jesus Christ knows us better than we know ourselves, and what a saving grace that is for all of us.


Free Advertising For Satan

You know those blog posts that are so well written that they start to get you thinking. They have a way of almost getting under your skin at times.
Sometimes I love those posts, other times I hate those posts, and almost always I wish that I was able to write something so eloquent and thought provoking that what I had to say would travel around the world and maybe someone would begin to understand my point of view.
I am a firm believer in being able to make our own choices. Agency is something that is so precious and dear to me. It is how we learn and grow. I do not want you to think that I am trying to tell you what to do, I only want you to see where I am coming from, and then you can continue to choose what you will. 
Personally I have, more often than not, been an advocate for modesty. It's an easy mindset to fall into when you are raised in an LDS home and you grow up in "Mormon Central" (more commonly known as Provo, Utah). There have been times when I have given into the temptation of wearing a bikini because I wanted to be viewed by my peers as "cool." During those times I was lying to myself about how what I was wearing made me feel. Looking back on the summer of 2009, I realize that I was very uncomfortable, but at the time having certain friends was more important to me than feeling completely comfortable in my own skin. But that was only one summer. Besides that summer, I have found myself questioning what drives some women to dress scantily. 
Before I continue I want to talk a little bit about how I view and define modesty. I think that modesty is subjective. It changes based on the eye of the beholder, but overall I think that modesty is being able to dress in a way that respects yourself. There is no one definition of modesty. Cultures around the world differ, times have changed, and fashion turns at every corner, but through all this, one thing remains the same: we are created in God's image, and thus our bodies are sacred. Our bodies are not a thing to feel shameful of, that is a statement of truth, but that doesn’t mean we can flaunt ourselves unnecessarily.
Fully understanding the sacredness of the body has taken me time, and it has taken my husband time, and it is an understanding that we have been able to reach intimately together. 
My husband is an amazing man. He is kind and gentle. He has a big heart. He has a strong testimony of Christ and how Christ can heal us. And while he is all this and more, he is still imperfect (as am I). He has his own struggles and trials, and Satan is fighting hard to keep my husband bound as he has been bound in the past.
I can understand that those of you who have not had a close loved one battling the trial of pornography would think that dressing however you like, or in what is comfortable is okay, I mean it is your choice. But I see how this affects my husband. I see how hard he fights everyday to have pure thoughts, to avoid the temptations that surround him, how can he fight it when it is everywhere and we are justifying it? This is not an easy burden to bear. My husband and I have many discussions on how we can make things easier for him, but he has often related his trial to being on a diet. He can be on a diet and he can do everything he can to avoid the things he shouldn't eat, but when we go to the store and at the end of every aisle is another junk food display, how does he continue to fight the temptation? 
Until I met my husband I never quite understood how serious an addiction pornography can be, and it is a very dangerous addiction. Satan is promoting a lie that the little bits, such as fabric over the belly button, or over the breasts, don’t make a difference. And the fact that there are people out there agreeing to that is free advertising for Satan.
The little bits can make the biggest difference. Maybe it’s not entirely the women’s responsibility to keep a man’s mind clean and pure, but if the man is doing everything in his power to do what he can, why can’t we as women help him out, make it a bit easier for him. It’s not wrong for a man to need a little bit of extra help.
God did not put us on this Earth to do it alone. We are here to make it back together. That is why we have family, and the church. We are a community and it’s okay to work together. It’s okay to ask one another for help. It’s okay to ask God for help. We all have our own trials and tribulations. We all struggle at times, it’s part of being human. We are not asked to be perfect in this lifetime, we are asked to have faith, we are asked to serve one another, we are asked to love each other even as He would love us. 
The campaign for modesty isn’t to judge others, or to make anyone feel like less of a person, it’s a movement against a threat, perhaps the biggest threat we will ever face, the devil himself, Satan. 


"Thy will be done..."

Until recently I'm not sure I have ever fully experienced the grieving process. It is one of the most interesting things I have experienced because most of the time I am not sure how to explain what I am feeling, but let me back up and start at the beginning of the story.
The husband and I have been married a little over two and a half years, and for about two of those years we have been trying to have kids. The first year we started to try, it probably wasn't really trying but we stopped using protection. I just assumed that I would be like my mom and get pregnant as soon as I went off the pill, but that didn't happen. After a year of negative pregnancy tests every month we got a little more serious. At the end of that first year I was diagnosed with Celiac, an auto-immune disease that makes me extremely allergic to gluten--not the most awesome thing to be diagnosed with, but not the worst either--I went gluten-free and almost immediately started feeling better, and after being gluten-free for a month I could count down almost to the hour when I would start my period every month. A consistent period was a huge blessing especially after the weekend of our first anniversary and being told by the doctor that it would be difficult for us to get pregnant. A consistent period was a sign of hope to me, but every month I was let down again and again. It seems that every time I wasn't pregnant the further I fell, but I tried to stay strong, telling myself that it just wasn't the right time for me and I was okay. And the thing is, I really was okay for the most part.
I have always felt that I was meant to be a mom, but I didn't want to be one of those crazy Mormon girls that only lived to be a mom. I have had many big dreams, I still have big dreams: I want to own a farm, have animals--especially horses, I want to go to vet school and work wildlife rescue; but the biggest dream I have is to be a mom.
Last month, the beginning of January, I thought that my dream was beginning to come true. I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. I was so excited, and couldn't wait to share the news with the husband. It was probably the best Friday we have ever had. But within a week it was all gone-by that next Thursday I had miscarried. For those of you who have never experienced that, for me it was just like a period only 100x worse...and that is not an exaggeration. I have never felt such physical pain before and I think that the emotional pain added to the agony of it all.
I was and still am a little confused, but I want it clear that I am not angry at God. I am confused because I am trying to be the best I can be and I feel that I deserve to have a child, and it almost happened--and then it didn't. I am confused because I see children all around the world born in to less fortunate situations and I could give that baby a good life.
 -Now before anyone tells me that we can adopt...I know. But right now that is not in the cards. Just FYI.
I am confused because I don't know what I'm supposed to be feeling or how to describe that feeling to someone else. I am confused because some days I'm fine and I can smile and other days I cry and eat because that is my vice.
I am confused because I see my friends having all the luck in the world when it comes to getting pregnant. Seeing my friends happy with such a great blessing is quite bittersweet for me, I do not wish for their happiness to be taken away, I only wish that I could share in that happiness with them.
In the midst of all this, I have been lucky enough to be able to continue to see the hand of God and the blessings I have received lately in my life.
My family has been a huge support during this time. My mom and my grandmother both have taken time out of their busy schedules to drive up to Logan and visit me. Many cousins and in-laws have called me several times and thankfully have been there to just listen. That is what I have needed more than anything - someone to listen. My mom and grandma have given me the hugs I needed.
Tyler has been one of the biggest strengths through all of this. I definitely wouldn't have been able to keep it together as well as I have without him. Tyler has held me and listened to me sob without any complaint. I know that this has been hard on him too, especially because he so badly wants to be a father. But we are staying strong and hanging in there, and someday our journey to expanding our family will end in joy.


I need a little help

For being only 22 years old it feels like I have been through a lot. 10 years ago I never would have dreamed that this is where I would be in life. I never would have guessed that I would be pursuing an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies or that I would have a goal to go into veterinary science emphasizing in wildlife rescue. I never thought that I would be married at such a young age; I always told myself that I would wait until I had finished grad school before I even considered getting married. And I never would have guessed how much I love where I am and what I am doing and that I would have such a great husband who supports everything I do and where I want to go. Tyler helps give me the strength and courage to follow my dreams. And with Tyler's support and encouragement I did something I never would have done on my own, I tried out and made the USU English Equestrian Team.
The decision to try out for the equestrian team was a spur of the moment kind of thing. Earlier within that week, I had convinced myself it was a bad idea because it had been three and a half years since the last time I had ridden. It almost seems though that my email requesting to tryout was sent without my conscious knowledge. I didn't realize I had sent it until I had sent it. It was weird, but I am so glad I sent that email. I am so excited for this opportunity to once again be doing what I love, to be a part of something I never thought I would be a part of.
Now, it is not only my hope, but my prayer that this blog post will find its way onto the computer screen of someone or anyone that could help me. Being a part of a university club sport is rather expensive. The cost to be a part of the equestrian team for one semester is $600. My husband and I are both full-time students, we also both have jobs on campus, and my husband also works another part-time job at Lowe's. We are blessed to have some grants and subsidized student loans to cover our tuition, books, and some of our housing payments. The little bit of money that comes in from our jobs goes to pay the obvious bills everyone pays monthly, as well as towards paying student loans from Tyler's first degree, paying medical bills from an emergency surgery Tyler had to have about a year ago when he had no insurance, and our food, which is primarily gluten-free because a little over a year ago I was diagnosed with Celiac disease. We are learning to be more money conscious, to be aware of where our money is going. We have not always done this in the past, and we are definitely now paying for that, but we are trying to improve and be better. With this awareness of our financial situation, I know that without help we cannot afford this. Our families have helped us a small amount, but I also know that their budgets are tight as well and I would not ask them for more than they can give. 
With the exception of my desire to be with Tyler for eternity, I have never wanted something so much. I feel at home on top of a horse, I feel joy being around these beautiful animals, and I am praying that there is someone out there who can help make this new dream of mine come true.
I am still very similar to who I was as a 12-year-old, but at the same time, so very different. It is wondrous to me to look back on my short life and see how I have ended up where I am now. To see how the Lord has guided me to the place I belong, and to see how the Lord has placed wonderful and marvelous blessings and opportunities in my path. I whole-heartedly believe that without the Lord I would not be where I am today. I know that the Lord can help make this dream come to pass, but I also know that there needs to be some work done on my part. I am a good student, I am working as hard as I can to do all that I can to succeed. I am going to institute, going to my church meetings, trying to see those that I can serve. I will continue to do what I can, and I know that somehow the Lord will provide a way.

If you or someone you know might be interested in helping me I can be contacted by email or phone.
Email: jessie.santa_maria@aggiemail.usu.edu
Phone: 8015920637
Any help given can be tax deductible if needed.