"When I came back to the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was so humble and so broken.
I didn't go to the church just wanting it to be true.
I wanted to find the truth wherever it was, and I was willing to go anywhere to find it.
I didn't have an agenda. I wasn't searching for a church that fit with MY ideas - I had no ideas. I knew I was wrong. I was genuinely searching for the truth and that is what made the difference for me.
I was like this sponge that was just soaking everything in.
I kept thinking about how different my family's lives would have been had we stayed in the church.
I was filled with regret.
I was also so freed, because I had so much hope.
Once I found out there was a God, everything changed and there was a light inside of me.
People could see it.
I was so genuinely happy."




Okay, here we are. I'm so excited.  I'm here with Lauren Rose. Lauren and I go way back, we've known each other since I was in sixth grade and you were in eighth grade.




Yep. Lauren's little sister Haley was one of my good friends growing up, so we've known each other since then. But Lauren and I recently reconnected, because we've both come back to the church. It's been cool to just have a friendship.



You just happened to move in right behind my in-laws, and you started talking to them, and then you made the connection. And since then, like, we just keep crossing paths.



And now we're like neighbors.   I think that it's, I don't know, meant to be it just because we, I think being without the gospel for an extended period of time, it's like – I mean, this is my experience – but I take it very seriously because I never want to go back to the way that my life was before. I was in such a dark place, and I never want to risk going back there. And so, I take it very seriously. If people know me, they're like, “oh, my gosh, Ashley is you know, she never wants to get in trouble. She always wants to, you know,” I just that's how I am. Because I just never want to go back to



“She’s so Mormon.”



Yes! I'm a Molly Mormon. 100%. And I'm Molly Mormon and proud. You know, because I like it.



I am to, I can relate to all of that.



Yeah, and I think that's kind of why we're just best friends right off the bat. Because just to value something like that, and to go through what we've both been through. It's like, I think we both understand, like, you know, everybody has their experiences that bring them closer to the gospel. But, you know, in our case, it's like, we've been without it, and so now we realize...


We appreciate it.



Yes, so much. Yeah.  So anyway, just, I want to hear from you like, what was your childhood like? I know you were in the church as a kid. So, tell me a little bit about what that looked like.



Okay, so I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and my parents were sealed in the temple. We moved around a bit when I was younger, but as far as being religious goes like, I wouldn't say, I mean, I don't know if the perfect Mormon family exists, but we definitely like were not the perfect Mormon family. It was probably more like, what I remember in Santa Clara, I don't know why, but it was like a battle to get the kids to church, like, my dad was like, “get in the car was going to bleepin’ church.” We were that family; I don't know why.

But once I got there, I was fine. I'm like, “Oh, I'm with my friends.” But it wasn't really a spiritual experience for me. I don't really feel like I felt the spirit until I came back. And maybe I did it a little bit, and I just didn't realize it. Like when my parents got divorced, honestly, like, we just didn't handle it well at all. Our whole family just, it just almost kind of became like every man for himself, which is really sad. My dad started using drugs, and my mom moved up north, and I didn't want to leave my friends, because I felt alone in my family all of a sudden, and so my friends are where I gravitated to, but as a kid, going from, like, being brought up in the church and being taught that family is everything, and then your family breaks apart. You're so lost. You're like “you told me family was forever and now we're not anything.” And I was so, so torn by that.

I was so depressed as a kid, I think, and I didn't even really realize it because you're I was too young to understand what depression was. That's kind of where it started. And then, you know, my dad started drinking and then he started using drugs, and that was very confusing to me, because I was always that girl that was like the teacher's pet and would read all the time and tattle on my own friends, you know? I was that girl. And then all of a sudden, I have a father who's taught me that all these things are bad and he's doing them. And so, I was so confused. I was so lost as a teenager. I started hanging out with like, kind of a rough crowd and not the best guys. Honestly, I completely forgot about the church. I still took school seriously, but I just started doing whatever I wanted. And then in high school, though, like it got pretty bad with my dad I don't know why I didn't just move up north with my mom. But I just kept staying. And I think it's because I could escape so easily to my friends’ houses, and I felt safe there.

My dad got this girlfriend who moved in with us, and it was a nightmare, and she was really abusive. And I just, I had some really crazy experiences, especially my junior year of high school, I walked in on my dad smoking meth in his closet, and I will never forget that image. I will never forget that. And you know, I was really angry in high school. And I'm sure a lot of people remember me as like, you know, the girl who cussed all the time, like, but I was angry. I was an angry girl that felt like I didn't fit in it. I couldn't relate to anybody. I felt like just alone all the time. And like, why I didn't turn to God, I don't know. I actually didn't like religion at all. I didn't have a hatred towards the Mormon church. It was like I had hatred towards all church. Like, I just thought church was ridiculous. It was just a way to like swindle people out of money. Like I would say things like that. Just stupid. I didn't know what I was talking about.



During that time, was your mom still going to church? Or where was she at?



She had kind of quit going, and I actually asked her like way later on why she stopped, and she said that she felt like she was going to be judged for getting divorced. But I don't think anyone ever actually said anything to her judgmental. I think she just felt like she was gonna be judged. So, she was maybe just judging herself. And so, she wasn't very active. And she wasn't really aware of how bad it was in St. George, for me living with my dad. If she knew, I think she would have done something about it. But I wasn't very open when I was younger. I kept everything in that just continually brought me farther and farther from the spirit.

I would probably say by the time I got to the point where I was ready to come back, I had spiritually died. I was very depressed. I saw everything all the time with like a gray hue. I don't know how to explain that. But life had lost its luster to me. Like I just didn't really care anymore.

So, after I left St. George, I came to Salt Lake and I continued to make bad choices. And I just I felt like I kept dating the same guy over and over again, like an emotionally unavailable narcissist. And I couldn't figure out why I kept dating the same guy. It was so frustrating. You know, I didn't have a lot of guidance still. My dad actually ended up moving north as well. And he got so bad that he was on the streets. He had lost everything. And that was hard. That was traumatizing in itself to be driving around downtown and seeing a guy and hoping that it wasn't, you know, my dad.



So you're living in Salt Lake at this time? How old are you? And what like, what's your situation? Are you going to school? Are you working?



I moved up to Salt Lake when I was around 18. And I continued to party, I really wasn't like heavy into drugs. I just I loved to drink. Like, that was my advice. I was, according to some of my addiction friends, I was a functioning alcoholic.  I was dragging my feet through college, I knew I wanted to get into like a bachelor's, but I didn't know what I wanted to study and, and so I just kept working and trying to, I don't know, not be lost when I was lost, you know. And at that time, in my life, I was very obsessed with saving my dad, like that was a huge focus for me for years. And I actually kind of I mean, I totally regret it.  I didn't understand boundaries. I didn't understand, you know, toxic relationships. And it was, you know, every relationship I had was toxic. And I was attracted to toxic people, because my dad was so toxic, and I was like, “I'm gonna save my dad, I'm gonna fix my dad”, you know, that I was just a huge part of my life.

It wasn't until I got a job that changed my life, because of the people that I was working for. So, I got my first job in private equity, I was the office manager. And you know, I had been kind of in and out of college, just whatever. And then I get this job at this firm. And the men that work there, I had never met men like them. They were so impressive in every way, but they were so down to earth, like, you would have no idea how much money they had because they were just so humble and cool. And like everybody loved them. Everybody wanted to be their friend. And I just watched them and I watched the way people treated them and how much respect they had. And I was like, “I want to be like them.” And they were all LDS, active in the church.

And so that's kind of where things started to change for me. I also did get into a little bit of trouble that really was just like, I'm done with alcohol. Like this isn't worth it for me anymore. Like, I felt like I was going to lose the things that were important to me because of alcohol and alcohol was no longer important to me. So, I was like ready to be done with it. So, I actually decided to be sober before I came back to the church.



How did you get sober at that time? Were you going to AAA?



I just stopped. I don't have an addictive personality. My drinking was completely based on covering emotions. It was a way for me to cope. And it wasn't like a physical addiction. It wasn't a mental addiction. I didn't love the feeling. It was like, I hated being so sad all the time. And that was the only way I could escape my reality. That was really why I drank so much. At that point now, I'm like, my job gave me hope in life, I guess because I didn't have hope, I didn't have God, I didn't have anything to hope for.  My family was falling apart. And all of a sudden, I meet these men and I'm like, I find hope in them. Like how crazy is that? I guess I've never I've never really thought about that.


So, I quit drinking. My family situation is just getting worse. It's getting so bad. My dad is like, super abusive towards my brother because they were like best friends and inseparable. And I was just sick about it. And oh, and I was dating this guy who I was like, “I'm getting married, like, I'm gonna marry him.” Like, I don't even know if I really liked him, I was just so done dating that I was like, “this is gonna be it.” Like, thank heavens, it wasn't.  But he ended up like, breaking up with me. And I was just devastated. And at that point, I remembered the church and I remembered, oh, you know, wait, sorry, I skipped something important. Before that guy, I got sick. I got an autoimmune disease. And I got really sick. I was in a really humble place then. And I remembered that I had promised my grandma, my father's mother, that I would read the Book of Mormon because she was huge into the church, and she was always trying to work on us. But we always blew her off. And I promised her the last time I talked to her when she was in the hospital, that I would read the Book of Mormon. And I try my best to keep promises because I had a dad who would break every promise to me. So, when I tell somebody, I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it. So, even though she passed on, I read the Book of Mormon, and it didn't do anything like for me personally that I noticed but I think that that's somehow Like unleashed something in heaven that was like, “we're allowed to work on her now.  We're allowed in her life”.


So then, fast forward, we break up with that guy. Then I, you know, forget about him. I remember the church, and I was like, “Hey, I am going to, you know, try the church out.” And I was kind of like, “you know what, I'm not just going to try the LDS church out. I'm going to try all churches.” I was so unhappy after this breakup, that I just wanted to find the truth. And I wanted to find answers because I felt like I had failed at life. I couldn't figure it out. I felt like any ideas that I had; I was wrong. And I needed help. And I was so broken, I was so broken. And when I came back to church, I think like, I remember sitting in Sunday school, and it was like they were talking and I don't remember what they were saying. But it was like, I started remembering everything, everything was coming back to me. And I was like, ‘I've always known this.” But it was like, this thing had been activated inside me. And I just started realizing all this stuff. And I think it was because I was so humble and so broken, and I genuinely wanted the truth. I didn't go to the church and want the church to be true. I wanted to find the truth where it was, and I was willing to go anywhere to find it. So, I think part of that is why I was able to really receive so much revelation, because I was like this sponge that was just soaking everything in. And it's because I didn't have an agenda. I didn't have, you know, “I know God's real, but the Mormon church isn't real. So, I'm gonna go find another church that fits with my ideas.’ I had no ideas, and I was trying to find the truth. And that's what the difference was, I believe.



So, you weren't going like, I think a lot of times we go because it's what we've always known. And we go because it's the cultural norm here in Utah, or whatever. And I think that is so beautiful how you just said that, like, you know, I think I had a similar experience where I was like, okay, I was just on the booking page, the jail, the Washington County Sheriff's Office page, the whole, you know, the whole county saw me on there


The social media before there was social media, right?


Exactly, exactly. And so, when I'm showing up at church, no one's expecting anything for me, they're not expecting me to, you know, they're just surprised to see me there. And it's almost like I was able to go and just, like you said, soak it up like a sponge and just, you know, feel it all and experience, you know, because I was only there for God, I wasn't there for because our neighbor was would be raising an eyebrow, if I didn't show up or whatever, like I was there just to find my relationship with God. And so, when you said that, it just totally resonated with me, because I experienced something very similar.


That's awesome.  I love that.


Okay, so anyways, go on.



I remember thinking, you know, I spent the next like, year and a half thinking, and that's all I did.  It was crazy. But I just remember thinking, like, “gosh, you know, even if my parents got divorced, if we would have all stayed in the church, our lives would be so different now.” They didn't have to stay married, like, and we could have all just stayed in, my dad wouldn't have gone off and made all these horrible choices that just wrecked our family. And I, you know, I just kept thinking like that, and I kept thinking of how different my life would be at that moment, if I would have stayed in the church. And it was I was filled with so much regret, you know, like, so much regret, but I was also so freed because I had so much hope.

I genuinely didn't believe in God. I really went a while without believing in God. And once I found out that there was a God, I just, there was a light inside me and people could see it and people would make comments and they would just be like “your eyes” or “you glow” or “you have this presence.” Like I just, I was so genuinely happy.

And rewind a little bit, sorry, I kind of went forward.  So, I did go to other churches.  I've been to the Catholic Church multiple times. I love their church. I think it's like the building is beautiful. So, I just like to go inside like the Cathedral of the Madeline downtown. I love it. And I actually had a therapist at the time and she did not want me to join the church. She wasn't a member. She thought that it was going to be bad for me that I was going to, you know, be judged and she didn't want me to get hurt. I don't know she. So, she told me to go to the First Unitarian downtown, and I think that's a non-denominational I don't know community that gets together, but they don't believe in, I believe, like a higher power, they just believe in being good. And so, I went there, and I thought it was interesting, and I felt something there. Like, I felt like there was a good spirit there. But it wasn't. It wasn't like, you couldn't feel the Spirit of Christ there. I couldn't feel that. But it was like, it was fine. So, I never really went back. But I kept telling myself like, I want to go, I want to learn more about the Baptist, and just, you know, all the other religions that are out there. So, I didn't want to go to the LDS church every Sunday, but I kept going back because I loved it.

And then, you know, I just was going to church. And then this girl happens to be in my ward that I recognize and I'm living in Salt Lake, you know, I didn't grow up with any of these people. A lot of, you know, my high school friends were married and not in the singles ward. So, I was always alone and making new friends. And I see a familiar face, and it was someone I went to high school with. And I started talking to her and we knew each other, but we never hung out. We just knew who each other was. But now we're like, great friends. And she was a big part in me coming back to church.

As I was coming back to church, and I was starting to remember all these things and realize, you know, that what they were teaching was true, and I knew it because I had lived what they said not to do. And I was so unhappy. And so, I knew by experience that they were teaching truth, unfortunately, it was the hard way. I wish that I didn't have to learn the hard way. But I did. So, I started to recognize, they were telling me that if you do something for God, you will always get something back. And so, I was starting to look for that. And I was seeing it in my life, like it was like I would read the scriptures or really study and I would start to feel really lonely, because at this point, you know, I read that scripture, I want to say it's in the New Testament. And it's where he says, like, to not look back, don't look back at your old life, look at me and move forward. And I remember reading that and thinking about it. And like I remember being in my bathroom and looking in the mirror at myself. And just like thinking like “I can do this, I can't look back anymore, I have to like, leave my friends.” Because I was continuing to hang out with them with all they wanted to do was go to the bar, and I would go but I wouldn't drink. And I had already been actually doing that for a while. And I was getting sick of it because I had quit drinking like and it's not that I didn't love these people and care about them because I still do it. Just like I wanted something different. That's all.

So, I like went like a year without any friends. But I didn't care because I was reading church books constantly. I was so intense. A lot of people at church that had figured out that I was an investigator. So then everyone you know, wants to help me and they're telling me what I need to do. And they're like, “Well, you know, I finished the book of Mormon. And then I said a prayer and I got an answer.” And people were telling me that, you know, I would hear about people mentioning, like this experience that they had that was just their solidifying, testimony experience. And I was like, “I want one of these experiences so bad.” And I think it was actually a topic of conversation in Sunday school, and somebody was saying, you have to be wired a certain wattage for a certain bulb. It made sense to me. I was like, “okay, you know, I can't be a 10-watt bulb and a 100-watt circuit” or whatever. And so, I'm like, I gotta be wired for this answer that I want. So, I go home. And I tell God, that whole thing. I was like, “I want to be wired.” You know, “I want a 100-watt answer, God”, like, I want it so bad. And then a couple days later, my brother is over. And I'm telling him this thing that I'm discovering, and I'm like, every time you do something for God, he does something back for you. And right then I


had to stop talking because I felt the Spirit so strong, that I felt like I was floating. Like I literally stopped talking and I looked around and I looked on the ground and I was like, “am I floating right now?” Like my whole body was buzzing. And my brother's just looking at me like what is going on, you know? And my jaw was hanging open and it felt like five minutes, but I'm sure it was like 10 seconds. But like the only way I can think of what happened is that God like reached through the veil and he just touched me with his finger. And that's all it took. And my whole body just felt it and like, you know, I've done things. I've messed around with drugs. I have never felt, that I have never felt that in my life. And I've never felt it again. After that, I was like, “Oh my gosh, I can never deny him. I can't because if I would I would be lying”. I mean, like I can't.

And so, I got my answer. And after that I was just like, all in like I was so committed, and I was like, “This is it, I'm on the right path, I just, I cannot believe it.” I remember having, you know, moments of being kind of scared, like, I can't believe I'm going to do this. But then I would have a moment or a thought that this is a choice, you can start doing this, and you can always stop if you want to, you can stop at any point in time, you don't have to be afraid of making this choice. And then I would have other thoughts that were like, you can't be that person. You're not a nice person, like you've been a brat to everyone your whole life, you've been running around like this angry teenager, cussing at everybody for all your problems. You can't be a nice Mormon girl. That's not who you are. And I thought that I even heard that in my head. And then I had a counter thought that was like, “You know what, like, actually, I can choose whoever I want to be. Because I have agency, every person can choose who they are. And that's how they become who they are. So if I want to choose to act differently, I have every right to.” And after that, I didn't have those thoughts anymore. I just chose to be a different person. And it kind of blew a lot of people's minds. A lot of people didn't know how to act around me anymore. Like my old friends were just like, “I don't know you anymore.” And they kind of fell away from me. Like, I didn't feel like I shunned anyone. I just feel like people were uncomfortable around me because they're like, “You, aren't you.” But I was.  I was just a happy version of me. I was the version of myself that was no longer in survival mode and in trauma all the time, like I was finally starting to heal. I mean, it's been a really long journey, and I'm still healing from all the trauma from my past and even recently.



So, I have a couple questions from some Instagram followers and I specifically asked, you know, what questions would you have for somebody that left the church and came back? And one of the questions is, “what advice do you have for people who are unsure the church is true?”



What people need to understand is they have to let go of their own ideas. They have to let go of their prejudice and their bias. If they really want the truth, they will find it. But if they have an agenda, they are going to find what they want to find. And I've had conversations, I've tried to, you know, talk to some people that were struggling with their testimony. And this one individual, I was, you know, convinced that with my experiences, I could reconvert him.  If I told him my story, there's no way he could deny it, right? So, I tell him my story. I was friends with his roommates, and they end up talking to me afterwards. And I was like, “so what did he say?” And then he ended up just being like, “some people really just need the church.” And I was like, “Oh, really?” you know. But I remember sitting in his car and trying to talk to him, and I can literally see –I don't know how to explain it— but I could see this like, almost like a wall in front of him that he was refusing to see what I was trying to show him. And I told him that I called him out on it and he got mad, and he got defensive. And I was just like, I don't have anything else to say to you. You don't want to hear the truth. And he was so mad at me for saying that.



What is that scripture that talks about how spiritual things appear foolish to the natural man or something along those lines.  “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God for they appear foolish unto him. Neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14. So, there you have it.



Nice to see. I kept thinking that when I was thinking about what I was going to say in this episode, and through that whole time, I had eyes to see like my eyes were opened.



So, okay, so you're coming back to church. You know, you're finding your place. What did your family think at this time? Like, you're talking to your brother? Was he like, open, or was he just like, no, zero interest?



You know, in that moment, when we had dinner together, he was listening to me. My sister and my brother were very angry with me for coming back to the church. I when I say I was alone, I was alone.  Like, I mean, God was with me. And then that made up for everything. You know, like you don't feel alone when God is with you. But like, I left my friends, my family left me. Like, I wasn't talking really. I mean, my dad was off in la la land. But my mom though, my mom was really inspired by what I was doing. And she started to come back.  She came back to the church a few months after I did. So, I actually had her with me through this.  And that was amazing.  If anyone's met my mom, she is just this little ray of sunshine, and I just adore her.

But, um, so yeah, it was hard. My sister and I were, you know, best friends. And I feel like that really put a wedge in our relationship. She was very mad at me. So as time is going on, and I'm still studying the gospel and deciding that I'm gonna you know, that I think the first big thing I did was I got my patriarchal blessing. I had never received that. So, I got that. The men that I was working for – one of them in particular— I like, kind of roped him into being involved with my story.  I forced him to be my mentor.  He had no choice.


So, I would come in on like Monday mornings, it was like our little sit down and talk about what happened over the weekend, because I always had something crazy to talk about. One of them, I was explaining to him what happened. And I was like, you know, I know God's real.  God is real. And I was like, but I don't understand the Jesus thing. Like, I know that there's a God. But I don't get Jesus. Like, I don't have a testimony about Jesus. And he was like, “You need to read ‘The Infinite Atonement’”. And he brought it into work the next day. And that book is incredible. I don't know if you've read it. But if you haven't, you need to read it. It is so well written. And it is what gave me my testimony about Jesus. So, I remember there was one day that I watched conference alone, I sat and watched, you know, the full session of conference, and I was glued to it. Like it was the best movie I've ever seen. I opened up a church book and started reading, like, when I tell you, I was intense I was I get so intense.


I was on the chapter where he talks about the Garden of Gethsemane. And I don't know what it was, I can't describe it, but I was reading it, and all of a sudden, it all made sense to me. It all made sense who Christ was and that we needed Him to atone for us and how much He loved us. And all of a sudden, I had another really spiritual experience. And I was just like, caught up in the Spirit. And I started just bawling.  And I was like, “I know you; I know you. And I love you. And I would do anything for you.” I made this promise to him in that moment, caught up in all this emotion, and I was just like, whatever you ask of me, I swear I'll do it. Then I had this thought, “Well, maybe you should go on a mission.” And I was like, What?  What did I just say? Like, wait, wait.

So, I like prayed about it. And I thought I was gonna do it. And I went into work the next day and I told my boss and he got emotional and like walked out and came back and a couple hours later and he was like, “I talked to my wife and we're gonna help you pay for your mission.” Yeah, and I'm just like, “oh my gosh, it's gonna happen.” I was so excited. I went to church. I tried to make an appointment with my bishop and I did make an appointment with him. And then I remember like, I went in to meet with him. And I wasn't in this ward very long, I had just moved out because I was living in an apartment with some girls that were partying and I didn't want to be in that environment anymore because I wanted to feel spirit all the time.  Wait, no, no, no, that was while I was living with those girls. Sorry, I was still living in that apartment.  I only had that bishop for a very short time he was, I don't mean to sound rude, I apologize, but he was like older. And really, he was really old school. I didn't know him at all. And I remember sitting outside his office door, waiting to have this like conversation about going on a mission. And I had this really strong impression that he was going to stop me, that he was going to try and stop me from going on mission. And I was like, “well, that's a stupid thought. No, he's not. He's a bishop. Of course, he wants me to serve a mission.” So I go in his office, and I tell him I want to serve a mission. And you know, he says to me goes, “you know, a mission isn't a vacation.” Yeah, he doesn't know a thing about me. And at that point, I was pissed. And I said, like, you know, I've actually had a really hard life, I can do hard things like going on a mission is not a vacation for me. And after that, he told me that he was going to have to talk to the stake president because you know, I don't have this like squeaky clean past. So, I don't know if he ever tried to talk to the stake president, but it took so long that that kind of that feeling of really going on a mission started to wane a little bit because I was in school. By this time, I have really recommitted to finishing my degree.



Did that like, shake your like, you're new to coming back to the church, and you're like, you have this strong desire to do something good.


Shake my testimony?




At this point, I was, honestly, all it took was that one moment with my brother, and nobody could shake my testimony. And it's still true. Like, I have done enough, and I have experienced enough in the world, to not let another person affect my relationship with God. There are people in the church that are going to make mistakes. But that does not mean that the church isn't true. The church as a unit, I guess, can make mistakes. But the gospel of Jesus Christ is perfect. That bishop in the unit of the church made a mistake. Or maybe he didn't make a mistake. Maybe I really wasn't supposed to go on a mission. But in that time, in my mind, it was a mistake. And that doesn't have anything to do with my knowledge of the gospel. You know, people can treat me like crap in the church, and I will never leave God because of somebody something did to me. Did I just say that backwards?


It made sense. It spoke to me. So, you're going to school, you're, you know, you're finishing up your degree.


Oh, yeah, I wanted to drop out of school again, because I wanted to just, well, I wanted to go on a mission. But all I cared about was the gospel. Like I just studied, I studied church stuff constantly. And I didn't want to study school stuff. I didn't care. It was weird. I kind of lost my worldly ambition. All I cared about was learning about God.

There was one another experience that helped me. It was still while living in this apartment.  I started to be aware of spiritual gifts that I had that I you know, I had always had them, but I didn't really understand what they were. And I feel like as I came back to church, they became more intense, and more frequent. So, I was in my room. And I started to daydream. I was like a daydreamer as a kid, big time. And I kind of like started to daydream. And I was, all of a sudden, I was kind of pulled into this, like, dream completely. Like, I was like, left my room and just was in this dream, right? And I start thinking about my dad. I had this vision of him, like or image of him in my mind. Like, I was in downtown Salt Lake City, and I was looking for him and I was going to go inside this like broken down, like townhome or something and look for him. But then the cop came out the door and he said, “You cannot go in there, he's gonna hurt you.” And I was like, “what? He's my dad, it's not going to hurt me. Like I can go, I can go inside.” But then my dad came downstairs, and he was handcuffed. And he lunged at me. Like he was going to hurt me. And then they put him in the back of the cop car and he drove off. And then I like, kind of came back to, and I had tears coming out of my eyes and I was like, “wow, I'm really messed in the head.” I don't know why I just did that. Like I thought that I had Like, you know, created this weird fantasy in my head. And I was just like, that was weird. And sorry, mind you, as I've come back to church, and I'm starting to learn about fasting, every fast Sunday, I would fast for my dad, because I still have the obsession with saving him. So, I was fasting for him. I don't know how many Sundays it took. And then I had this image. And then a couple days later, my dad got arrested and went to jail. And my dad had never gotten caught with drugs. He just had like a bunch of misdemeanors, just stupid crap. But it was really obvious that he was a user, like you could look him and know.  So, my dad ended up going to court, he was out it. He was at the point of the mountain and I went to his hearing, the judge sentenced my dad to like, three or five years in prison. And it was kind of weird that he went to prison because he actually didn't really do anything to deserve that severity of a sentencing. But it was weird, I think they had a connection. They like had a mutual friend from BYU, because my dad went to BYU and the judge was like, blown away. He's like, “What are you doing here? You have kids, you were married at the temple, and you're sitting here in front of me?”  He was just kind of mind blown. So, my dad gets sent to prison. And here I am, like, “oh, my gosh, I did this.” You know, I was like, so excited. So excited, because I'm like, I'm gonna get my dad back. Like, how freaking cool is this? So, I was all excited.


I mean, I was sad. I did cry. But like, deep down, I was like, this is the right thing. God knows what He's doing. Because he had never really gotten in trouble before, I mean, he smoked meth for, my gosh, 15 years.


That’s a long time.


Yeah. Yeah. So that was another thing. That was a really big, like experience for me of, you know, building my testimony, that prayer was real, like, I have such a huge testimony of fasting. Fasting is so huge to me. Because that wasn't the only like, I would fast and I would see something like, the next day, I would just see miracles when I fasted.

At this time of my life, you know, I'm still at the same job. Still going to college. And I'm just starting to get into the whole, like, YSA scene in Salt Lake, which is like could be a whole podcast in itself.  So, I'm just kind of doing my thing, working constantly. I was actually reading my journals from this time in my life when you asked me to be on this podcast, because I wanted to remember all the little miracles that happened when I was coming back, because there were so many, like, there were the big ones that I will never forget that I've just shared with you. And there's others, I'm not going to share them all because they're private. But I have had a handful of pretty big miracles in my life. But as I was reading my journals, what I kept seeing over and over again, was I would think about something and then my Institute class would be that that topic, and like literally, every single week. And I think at that time, I finally like that's what really made me realize there is no such thing as a coincidence. There is no such thing as a coincidence. If you think about something, and it shows up that is the hand of God in your life. What do you call it the law of attraction? No, I think that's the hand of God and your God showing you that He's guiding you, He is in the details of your life. He loves you. He cares about you. Like, you're not alone.



So, tell me a little bit about, I mean, hopefully this isn't skipping too far ahead, but your husband? How did you guys be like, what was the story with that?



Um, I mean, when I was in the single’s scene, it was like, I wanted to be married right now. I was done dating.  But then I felt like I was starting over because all of a sudden, I was dating with like, eyes wide open instead of like, blindly following these guys that like replicated my father.  Like now I'm actually consciously dating every year I'd be like, this is the year this is the year I don't even know I think it took like five years until I finally met Gordon.  A friend just set us up. And I had actually gotten to the point where I was becoming pretty apathetic towards dating.  I was like done, and I was almost 30 And I remember one night I got on my knees and I was like, Heavenly Father. If I have to go into the Mid-Singles Ward, I am going to Vegas and I'm getting wasted. I won't do it. Like I was so mad. I was just like, I can't, I can't.

My friend set me up with Gordon, and I remembered for the first time, and I can't even remember for a long time, I enjoyed my date, I enjoyed it. Like we sat and talked on my porch until probably like four in the morning. And we went on a date to a wedding, one of my college friends got married, and we went to his wedding. And it was like an hour drive. So, we were together for hours. And I had such a good time. And I knew in like two months that he was the one I just like I had received revelation like, I just knew I just had this feeling. And Gordon didn't get it as quickly as I did. So, you know, typical Lauren given people tomatoes like “Well, if you don’t know by February, I'm done.”  And then I remember like that night, I was like, “why would you say that to someone you love? You don't say that to people that you love.” But then he ended up coming around, like quicker than that anyways, so I was okay. But yeah, so that's how we met.



So, okay, tell us a little bit about, you're married now, you know, things are good. So, tell us about life now.


Okay. The birth experience?


Yeah. I mean, if you're, if you're okay with it.


Yeah. I got actually I got sick again when we got married. So, it's been a little bit of a rough go for me and Gordon. But I got better. We had to wait to get pregnant for me to get better. And we got pregnant the first time we tried. I could just tell I was pregnant, like my body just felt different. So, take a pregnancy test, we go in, or I make an appointment with the high-risk OB because of my autoimmune disease, I was high risk. So, we go in for our first ultrasound and we're sitting there, and it's up at the U. So, it's, you know, it's a university hospital, and she's a student. So, this was her first ultrasound by herself. And she's doing it and I'm just sitting there, you know, waiting. And she's not saying anything for too long. And I was like, “okay, something's wrong. Like it's an empty sack. There's, there's no baby there.” And then she goes, “there's two sacks. And I was like, what, what does that even mean?” Like, my brain didn't even go to the right place. It was just like, “Huh, what does that mean? I've never read about that.” And then Gordon just starts laughing. And she's like, “Yep, there's two.” And I was like, “Wait, there's two, two babies. No way.” And I just remember thinking like, “holy crap, what am I gonna do? I don't know how to be a mom. I don't know how to have a baby. I'm gonna have two?”  Like, I'm tiny, I'm a very small person, how am I gonna hold two babies? I was freaking out. But Gordon was like, on cloud nine. He was so ecstatic. And, you know, after that day, I cried. And I was scared. But I was like, I can do this. Like, I just, you know, I just didn't realize like, gosh, once you're pregnant, there is no going back. You can't do anything. You have no choices, no options, no control. You give it all to God because you can't do anything.

We went to the doctor frequently, because now I'm a double high-risk pregnancy because any twin pregnancy or multiples is high risk. And everything was great. Everything was looking so good. Everyone was really surprised. And so, we went on vacation at 27 weeks. We were supposed to go on another vacation, but the forest fires kind of cancelled out. So, I'm like, well, let's just go to Los Angeles. I have family. It'll be a quick little trip. And then we can like really settle in for the third trimester and get everything ready. So, we go to Los Angeles, and bam, I have the babies. Yep. And it was a really traumatic experience. And I was terrified and in shock. We ended up in the NICU and it was just a blur at first, like I didn't even know what was going on. I didn't want to stay with my family out there because like I've had people live in our house. And I just know it like it can be a burden, especially for as an extended period of time. And for what we were going through, it was just so stressful. I just needed my own space. So, we ended up at the Ronald McDonald House. I had volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House in Salt Lake, so I was familiar with it. And I was like, oh, the Ronald McDonald House would be great. So, we get accepted to stay at the Los Angeles Ronal McDonald house, and like I get there and I'm like, what, this is nothing like the Salt Lake one, it's like a roach motel.  It was so bad. In their defense, I freaking love the Ronald McDonald House. Thank you so much for helping us. It was being renovated. So, like we were living in the renovated building.


I remember when I got to the Ronald McDonald House after being discharged from my C-section. That was probably one of the lowest moments in my life, I remember sitting on that bed in this like, you know, piece of crap motel room with my babies in the hospital miles away, and I'm in like a foreign place. And I just remember thinking, “What did I do to deserve this?” Like, this is torture. This is pure torture for a woman to be separated from her babies like that. And I just like I couldn't believe it.

Rewind a little bit, back when I was pregnant. This is another one of my spiritual experiences. When I was pregnant, there was a Sunday before I knew I was having twins – so it was before my very first ultrasound—, I read a talk by Elder Holland and then I just like passed out, fell asleep on the couch. And I had one of my dreams. And I dream all the time. I have weird dreams all the time. But I've had like a handful of dreams that are very different. They're very real. It's like they're potent dreams. I had one of those dreams, I had a dream that I was walking down this dark hallway. And I had this open door at the end that was just light. And I heard a voice very distinctly say “walk towards the light.” So, I walk. And I get to the very end of the hallway, and I look out and I'm looking over a cliff. And he says “jump,” and I just jump. I don't think about it. I just do it. And all of a sudden, I get a little scared, like holy crap, because it feels so real to me this dream. And in that moment, all of a sudden, I was just full of the Spirit. I felt God inside my body. And I just was flying. And I had no fear. I was just like flying and flying through the sky. And I was like, this is the coolest thing ever. And I remember in that dream, like looking over, I'm flying over the ocean. And there's like this big city on the coast, and I'm just flying. And then I start flying up into the sky and these white things start falling and I was like, are those birds and I'm like, they're gonna hit me. But I kept going up and I wasn't getting hit. And I kind of looked down and they were falling into the city. And I was just like, I don't know what that was. And then I woke up. And then the next day I found out I was having twins. And I was like that was the dream, that's why. God was telling me that I'm going to be okay. Like it's going to be okay that I have twins. So here I am sitting in the Ronald McDonald house. And I remember that dream. And then I was like, “holy shiz, that was Los Angeles. I was flying over Los Angeles in that dream.” Yeah. And I just broke down and I was like, He knew, He knew the whole time that I was gonna end up in Los Angeles with my babies and He was telling me, “You will conquer this, you will do this. I am with you. You can do anything. You are fearless.”

And that dream got me through the NICU.  That dream like, because, you know, people don't know what it's like in the NICU. Like they don't because unless you've been there, you don't even think about it. I didn't think about the NICU before but like, the NICU was like a freakin’ battlefield like you're going in every day. “How's my baby? How are my babies? Are they doing okay? Are they thriving? Are they like starting to lose it?”  Like what is today going to bring, every day's a new day you do not know. And like, I saw babies die and it made it so real for me, like I could lose one or both of these girls. Like honestly, that dream carried me and one of our nurses was a member of the church. And she, you know, our story just spread like wildfire through that NICU.  Everybody knew who we were. She started spreading the word through the wards in like Los Angeles County. People just came together for us people started sending us gift cards for groceries.   This woman, Leona Mattoni, she is an angel. Anyone who knows her, this woman is an angel. She reached out to me. And she drove up in her car with a trunk full of clothes for me and Gordon.


That whole experience just taught me the importance of service. People just came together for us.  And some of the nurses were like, what church are you in? Our church doesn't do that.  And you know, so we try like telling her but she's like, Oh, I'm Catholic.

But we started going to one of the wards out there. It was just incredible how much like friends at home, were sending us stuff like baby stuff when the front when the baby's got discharged or just like a care package of like, all this bright yellow stuff and like 100 bucks, like go out to a nice dinner like people just, like smothered us of love.  At the time, you can't really like feel it because I had so much anxiety all the time. But it really, really helped get me through it, that whole experience.  It was just intense it was really intense



Okay, so I have a couple questions for you. Where is your dad today?



So, my dad, after he got out of prison, he actually like, you know, got out, relapsed. And I had, you know, more of a reality check of like, “oh my gosh, I’m getting my dad back,” you know, like, he relapsed, he went back, broke parole. So, he got out of this, like, I don't even know what it was called, because it wasn't jail, but it's like a jail that they make for people who break parole or something. I don't know what it's called. But they agreed to fly him to Massachusetts, where his brother lives and his brother is really big into AA. And he actually is probably going to be on this podcast. So yeah. And he said, you know, you can come out and live with me. But the second you relapse, like you're on the streets, and you know, the streets in Boston are not the streets in Salt Lake City. So, he got sent out there, and my uncle just whipped into shape. He started going to church again, my dad was excommunicated while he was in prison. He actually got re-baptized on my first anniversary, and he didn't even realize it. So, every anniversary for me and Gordon is my Dad's anniversary for being re-baptized.



when you were first coming back, did you feel judged? Or have you ever felt judged in the church because of your past? Or because for whatever reason?



I did that I already kind of spoke on it to my friend that I was convinced that I could really, you know, re-commit him to the Gospel, like that moment made me feel very judged. Like, “some people just need the gospel” like, “Oh, your life is so much better than mine, like I am this poor girl who's been raised by like a meth head.” And I was pretty pissed when he said that, because I'm like, the only reason you have what you have is because you're in the Gospel. And you have this confidence that you take for granted, that God gives you. And they don't realize that until they lose it. But it takes a while to realize that. You know, I'm sure there's people that judge me, especially when you're in the singles Ward, because the girls are competing, you know, for their eternal companion. But honestly, I was not open.



One of the questions from the Instagram followers were “Do you have any doubts or concerns or things that bother you about the church? And if you do, how do you handle that?”


That's a good one.  Coming back, I had two big hurdles that I was having a hard time with. One of them was prophets, it was really hard for me to believe that a man could be good enough to really be a prophet, because I did not have good examples of men in my life. And to be honest, like, someone close to me, who, you know, had a pretty negative experience with some members, and he was in an authority position. And, you know, I was just like, how could God let someone like that be a bishop, but I was still pretty fresh in the gospel at that point, was still investigating. And now that I have a better understanding, like, it's like what I was talking about earlier, like you have like the unit of the church, and then you have the gospel of Jesus Christ, the teachings of Christ, right. And that bishop was in the unit, and he made a mistake. And part of Christ getting us through this life is letting us make mistakes. And he has to let these bishops make mistakes. It's part of the journey, even though it sounds like kind of twisted, I just, you know, so with that, with authority positions, like, that's helped me to understand that like, just because they're in a position of authority, they are not immune to making mistakes. And that's why we have to be, you know, reading our scriptures every day because it is like, it just kind of sneaks in on you. And you have to stay on top of it like weeds.

And then another thing that I struggled with was, like homosexuality, growing up, my childhood best friend's mother was a lesbian. And there were two houses that I lived at, it was her house, and then my other best friend, and I loved her mom, her mom was my mom, and I still love her. And she will always be like a family to me. And I just, I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that God would give somebody that trial and then tell them that they couldn't do it, like, and so I remember having this conversation with somebody and I was like, “You're telling me that you have to sacrifice your happiness right now in this life so that you can have eternal happiness.” But at that point, I didn't have a really strong testimony about eternity. So, I was like,” Well, what if there's not even an eternity and then you live your whole life and you didn't, you were never really happy.” But now that like, I have more of an eternal perspective. I don't struggle with that. So, I, like, I don't judge people that that have this in their life, I look at them the same, I find that very hard, that's still one of the things in the church, that's hard for me.



One of the questions is, “How can we treat people better who leave? And would that have made a difference for you when you left?”



No, I was invited to church and I didn't feel worthy to go. I was just like; I had no interest in the church. And the “How can we treat people better?’ You know, I still struggle with that. Like, I'm not a perfect person. And like my sister and I butt heads about it, because she is very anti still. And she'll tell you exactly how I should treat her better. Honestly, like, I can appreciate both sides. I understand that people who don't want to have anything to do with the church, they're not ready. They don't want it. And I think we just have to wait.  There was a time where I received like, revelation about my family. And I want to say that God just like made me realize that like, it was like kind of in time, just give it time. Just give these people space, love them no matter what. And I finally realized that it is not my job to save people, it is Christ's job to save people. It is my job to love them. That is all he asks of me. I am not the Savior. I love my family the same whether they're in the church or not. But I mean, when you love something, and believe in something so much, you want to share it with everybody and you want to have the same feelings. But you know, we have to respect each other's opinions.



For sure.  Well, you're amazing.  I feel like I can't wait to go back and re-listen to this because it was just so good. But this was just, you're amazing. And your testimony just, it's, I don't know. Like I feel so grateful to be your friend.


Oh, I feel grateful to be your friend.  Like, you’re way too cool to be my friend.


No way.  But anyway, any final thoughts before we wrap up here?



Honestly, the only thing I didn't get to say is if you're struggling with something, just talk to God about it and ask for it. Like, I really struggled with my self-confidence. Clearly, when you have a drug addict as a father, and then you keep dating guys that just use and abuse you like you're gonna have really crappy self-confidence. And I wanted self-confidence so bad. And I just prayed for, I prayed every single day and it slowly gave me a different view of myself. And I saw myself as a daughter of God, I had more confidence than I'd ever had in my life. And that gave me more confidence than having a college degree or a good job or like that's something that no one can take away from me. I just truly believe that God answers prayers and it didn't happen overnight, and I wanted it to, I'm a very impatient person. I've learned more patience over time, but just don't stop praying for it.


I love that. Well, thank you so much. You’re the best, and this was so much fun.