Have Courage and Be Kind #actlikebaylor

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Have Courage and Be Kind #actlikebaylor

What happens when two strangers stand in line by each other?

The answer is, nothing.

They stand there and look at their phones or wrestle with their subconscious about something that happened that day.

They furrow their brows, fold their arms, roll their eyes, or stand there in silence.

Now, what happens when a 5-year-old stands in line?

They don’t.

They flip and flop and hang and jump and stare and smile and point.

Five-year-olds don’t have pressing matters or issues that consume their life.

They just live presently.

In the moment.

Who knew that that was all it took?

To notice.

To save a life.


Everything that brought us to that moment . . .

Baylor had been particularly hard that week. His room was being remodeled, so he slept on his sister’s floor. He needs routine, and that’s been slightly lacking for him. It was the week of Valentine’s Day, and Jeff and I were going to be gone a couple of nights on different dates. He’s been really good about us leaving, but he struggled that week. Crying and anxious. I told him I would take him on a date that weekend to make up for it. He brought it up to me every hour until Friday hit.

When Friday arrived, we were off on our date, but not until after we were held up by 30 different random things. His request was Target and dinner, but when we arrived at Target, he had fallen asleep in the car. This just does not happen. Ever. I got some work done and finally woke him up after 30 minutes. We shopped our hearts out, and I bought him a couple toys. “This is the best date ever,” he said.

Soon we made our way to dinner. After talking with some friends we ran into, we found ourselves standing in line behind a very tall dude with a really cool jean jacket. (Literally everything we had done that day, maybe everything we had done in the last few years, had brought us to this point.) Baylor was jumping and bouncing and noticing and observing while I was trying to keep him calmed down and away from people’s space. I just kept thinking that these people without kids probably just want to be left alone and especially don’t want little kids all up in their personal space.

I soon noticed Baylor smiling and staring at the dude with the cool jacket. I had a decision to make at that moment. Do I allow him to stare and observe, or do I quickly tell him that it’s bad manners and not to stare? In one corner of my mind lies a tired stressed out mother who doesn’t want to deal with anyone or anything. And in the other corner lies the mother who wants to heal and help and serve. It was clear to me that Baylor liked the jacket and he just needed a little reinforcement. I’ve noticed that with children, if they stare and see something “different,” they often don’t know exactly how to handle that “different,” which is where parents come in. They can literally shape the way children think and act, and if you can redirect the way that staring is processed, you can mold your child to be open and loving and nonjudgmental. So, I told Baylor, “Do you want to tell him you like the jacket?”

While shaking his head yes, he shyly stated, “I like your jacket.”

“Well, thank you,” the dude with the cool jacket replied.

The corners of his lips turned up, and there was so much kindness behind his eyes.

The next thing I knew, he was paying for our meal.

I was shocked and so grateful.

The cashier put us on the same ticket, so we awkwardly got our drinks and utensils together and found a place to sit. Baylor and Tony, the dude with the cool jacket, soon started to talk about art and creating. He told Baylor that anything his hands touched was considered ART and he should never ever stop creating. He said, “Art is created to bring happiness, whether it’s for you or for someone else.” Baylor was clearly touched by this young man and said, “I want to be an artist like you someday.” With tears in his eyes, Tony reached for his phone to share something with us. “I deleted my social media accounts earlier today,” Tony said, “but I want to re-upload Facebook so I can show you this video.”

I handed Tony my phone to use, and he navigated himself to his Facebook page. After he shared the video, I immediately followed him on Facebook, which was random of me, but I did it without thinking. Like I just needed to be friends with him.

We said thank you and goodbye when, really, I just knew this wasn’t goodbye.

Answering a cry for help

Later that night, I was putting the kids to bed when I received a Facebook message from Tony.

I was shocked and emotional and so moved.

Tony was reaching out for help. He was aching for interaction and love. He paid for a meal, made a 5-year-old’s night and completely changed his stars. I knew I couldn’t leave this story alone. I had to tell my readers. I had to beg them to speak out. I had to start a movement or share or something.

But while I was sharing with my followers, Tony had hopped back onto social media to share the experience with his friends. Friday night we knew we had to share and so did many others. Soon thousands of people flooded Tony’s feed with love and kindness.

We texted the majority of Saturday as I asked Tony more about him. I learned through his Instastories that he was LDS, but I didn’t know the extent of his story. I knew the second we exchanged conversation over Facebook messenger Friday night that this wasn’t going to be a one-time encounter. I wanted to get to know him. I had to. I was so intrigued and curious. I just knew something was special about his story.

Tony’s story . . .

Tony’s mother and father emigrated from China to Suriname, where he was born and raised. He was forced to watch his father physically abuse his mother his entire childhood. He was not only physically abused but emotionally abused and neglected alongside his mother. His mother divorced when he was 12, and he dropped out of school when he was in 8th grade to help his mother in her clothing store and to get away from all the bullying. He had no social life and struggled with nightmares of his father that led to severe depression and suicidal attempts.

After a failed suicide attempt at age 19, he decided to make something of his life in America. He moved to New York just 5 years ago and then California where he met the Mormon missionaries. He soon after served an LDS missionary back in New York. His mother had cut all contact from him after he become a member of the LDS church, and soon the rigors of the mission and his struggling mental health became almost too much for him. He had nowhere to go and no family to turn to after his mission, so he decided to stay in New York City.

Life became lonely for Tony, and mental issues and repressed memories were left unresolved. He slowly slipped away from religion and found himself in a sea of drugs, alcohol, and suicide. After multiple attempts and 4 huge ER bills, he found himself broke and homeless. He reached out for help on Facebook one last time, and a friend from California said he had a couch he could crash on in Salt Lake City. That was 2 months ago.

Since then, he has had good and bad days. He wants to find happiness and sustain a job, but how do you do that when you don’t even know where to begin? His camera and his art have saved his life multiple times, but it wasn’t going to be enough. In fact, right before we had come up in line behind him, he had been standing in line and was listening to a group of boys behind him making fun of him and his jacket. “I was going to cry,” Tony said, “but why waste the tears? I wasn’t going to be alive in a couple hours anyway.”

But Baylor spoke up. He acted. He loved.

Everything happens for a reason

After Tony told me his life story yesterday, I knew this couldn’t be over. I just felt as if I had found a long-lost brother. A boy who has fought so hard for so long. On his own. With no family. No parents. After discussing it with Jeff, we decided to invite him to church that Sunday and to our house for lunch afterwards.

Jeff had been asked to speak on JUDGING OTHERS just two weeks before that, and he was planning to use the story of Baylor’s courage, so it was the perfect sacrament meeting.

After church, Tony came home with us, and we sat and ate for hours. Turns out, Tony is pretty brilliant. He’s received his GED since being in America, and he knows 3 languages! He’s been broke but never in debt, and he has passions and desires and drive. He just loses hope. Like any of us do. Except when we do, we have people to turn to. People to cry with. Family to love us and help us.

We talked about manifestations and the universe and all my hippy goodness. He didn’t understand the word manifestation, so I explained what it meant: “We are creators, Tony. We can create the life that we deserve and should have. You just have to declare it.”

He then told me that just 3 weeks ago, he was going to play basketball with his roommate at a church house near the University of Utah. There was something unexpected happening that night, so they changed the location to a random church Tony had never been to. He had been struggling going to church for multiple reasons, but one of them was how dull and simple the new church buildings were. This particular building they randomly came to play ball in was “magical.” It was older with stained-glass windows and metal doors with arches and steeples. He didn’t want to play ball anymore. He simply wanted to admire the building. “If I could come to this building, I would go to church every week,” he said to his roommate. “Actually, someday I will come to this church building.”

He couldn’t believe his eyes when 3 weeks later–just 32 hours after he almost left this earth–he was pulling up to that SAME church to meet us! (for reference-LDS church buildings are like street signs in SLC. There are literally hundreds of them)

(And I’m coming in here to add a little bit more to the story…if you have time, I want you to read how we found ourselves in Utah and how we found our house!)

Everything happens for a reason.


 You can control your destiny!

I believe in manifesting. I believe in angels and guides and God and intertwined interactions. We were NOT meant to walk this world alone. We were not meant to carry our burdens alone.

I asked my readers to help me with Tony, help him out of his financial rut so he can find a job, get a bike, an apartment. I believe in him. I know with possible medication and hypnotherapy and exercise and nutrition help and meditation and wellness, I know he can heal from his repressed memories and scars.

We raised over $14,000 for Tony, in just 2 days!

We wrote down goals. We made a plan.

He’s coming to our house for dinner every week. He’s a part of our family now.

NEVER ever ever ever ever count anyone out.

Never underestimate them.

We surprised Tony with the money and a few gifts to help him start his journey.

And he painted this picture in return.



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Showing 29 comments
  • Whitney Mack

    Oh Sadie, this story is so beautiful and touching. I’m filled with a flood of emotions as families deal with tragedy in Florida, as I start working full time outside the home, as I read this tender story about love and kindness. I needed to hear this story, I needed something pure and true. Thank you for saving Tony, for both of you sharing this story, for being the good the world needs. I follow you on Instagram bc you’re positive and funny and genuine, I need that in my life as I struggle with self doubt and my journey to self love. Thank you for raising your kids to be open and nonjudgmental and kind, I pray I do the same with my own children, for they are our future. Thanks again!

  • Rachel Eads

    Holy cow. This is beautiful, inspiring, touching… everything. You guys are a beautiful family- Tony fits in the picture perfectly! ❤️

  • Nicole S.

    This story has really touched me. Thank you, Baylor and your whole family for your example, we need more people like you in this world. I’m making it a goal to not tell my children to stop staring and instead help them verbalize what they are thinking. Thank you!!!

  • Tayler H.

    Thank you for being such an amazing person! This has me in tears. Life is so crazy wonderful and stories like this just affirm that there is so much good in the world! I can’t wait to keep following Tony’s story.

  • Koosje

    Wow! Wow! Your courage, love and kindness are an inspiration! This is what serving God and others truly means. I am so grateful for what your son and family are doing for this beautiful soal.
    Love & Kindness

  • Denise

    Baylor, Tony & Your Family has taught me so much more then what I’ve bedn doing. I realize I’m not doing enough when I see things in people!! Sadie you are awesome. So glad I follow you & got to be a part of this journey from afar!! I always say Everything happens for a reason & this just proves it!!! 💛💛

  • Lu

    This continues to be such an amazing story. It’s just so beautiful how you have now become part of each other’s lives. Tony has now touched so many lives and I pray that he heals his mind, heart and soul. Sending you all continued love and prayers.

  • Jenelle Ellenberger

    This was incredible! I felt like I was following it live on your Instagram stories, my heart kept screaming “This is a God thing!”. Everything about this story, your family, and your discipleship demonstrates how we are vessels to be used for His glory! Thank you for sharing and encouraging, I can’t explain how much this has opened my eyes to small moments that I’m given throughout the day. I urge myself to Be like Baylor in those times.

  • Karina Cooksey

    I live this. This is so beautiful and will change your family’s story and be part of who your children are. When I was eight years old, my parents took in a Korean family with a daughter and a baby who could not get medical help in Korea. They lived with us for a year and 20 years later are as much a part of our family as I am. I call them my aunt/uncle and cousins. They’re at family dinners, Christmas, etc. it’s impacted the life of my siblings and I for the better. ❤️

  • Lacie

    I absolutely love this story!!! It was so cool to kind of watch it unfold in almost real time…it gives me faith in humanity and in my Heavenly Father who I know is aware! Thank you thank you thank you!

  • Megan Evans

    I just wanted to thank you for sharing this story. On Saturday I had planned my whole lesson for my beehive class. It was going to be on adversity, why we have it, and how we are all going through hard things. Then I watched your stories. I was very touched by it. I couldn’t sleep that night. Which does not happen very often. My mind wouldn’t shut off and I kept thinking about your story. I knew I had to change my lesson. Sunday morning I got up and hurriedly changed my lesson and downloaded your video. I don’t know why but I feel like someone in my class needed that message. That message of love, hope, kindness, miracles. What an amazing story. I have loved reading your updates and seeing the pictures of your family and Tony. Thank you!

  • Maverick Mamas

    Love you, love your boy and I love what your big hearts have done for Tony! Thank you for seeing a soul, one of God’s beloved sons and helping him in this hard life. ❤️

  • Haylee Briggs

    Sadie, you have such a beautiful soul. I shared your stories on my Facebook because I wanted to share this beautiful story. I wish more people in the world were like you. Helping others and not just doing it for publicity. I hope this gets out and helps others. You’ve helped so so soo many. I pray I can raise my baby girl as you have raised your babes.

  • Kim

    This is what joy is….putting another human being before yourself. God’s work at it’s finest..when you are love you willl show love. What a gift you all are to one another. I am sure in some way you needed Tony as much as he needed you..that’s why God’s plans are always for our good and why his plans are way more better than our own. I am excited to follow Tony’s journey to his new found freedom and love of life! I am praying for him as well as you and your famliy!
    God bless and be well!

  • Melanie Sumner

    I love this story! Please post updates. My very best to you all, especially Tony. 😊

  • T

    Love this so much! Not only your son for breaking down barriers, but you for being so welcoming and loving.

  • Mandy

    This story seriously melts my heart. If more people would just be kind, nonjudgmental and view others as Christ views us, the world would be a perfect place. Thank you and Baylor for your kindness and thoughtfulness towards Tony. Saving one person is just as important as saving hundreds, it starts with one. I hope this story encourages others to be more accepting and loving towards people who they see as “different”. I know I will teach my children to #actlikebaylor and reach out ❤️❤️❤️

  • McKenna Stewart

    This is an AMAZING story! I am blown away with how many people this has touched and how you were able to help Tony. I can’t even explain how much I look up to you, your family, and now Tony. I hope and aspire to be a mom like you one day. Thank you for sharing this story, as well as others. You are honestly my favorite person on my instagram feed 🙂 I want to be more aware of others around me, just as Baylor was. Being in highschool right now, there are a lot of people who are feeling this way and I want to use simple compliments, such as what Baylor said, to make a difference.

  • MegRuth

    Couldn’t love this more!

  • Beverly Merrill

    Sadie, I have felt like I know you since you first married Jeff He was one of our very favorite missionaries. We have rejoiced that he married, a beautiful, strong, sensitive, spiritual woman. Thank you for sharing this profoundly beautiful experience. What a blessing you and your family are to those who know you and to those who didnt know you before this posting. You have greatly added to my testimony of our loving Lord and His tender mercies.

  • camillla

    Sadie, I am in tears reading this story. The spirit is permeating my heart as I realize what an incredible witness this is of the goodness of the gospel and how much God loves each one of us. I think you and your husband are darling and wonderful and creating an incredible atmosphere of love in your home and family for your kids to have. I just am amazed. thank you for your sweet example and I’ll be praying for TOny!

  • Lindsey

    This is such an amazing story. So happy there are people like you and you family out there. xoxo

  • Kevin

    Thank you for sharing this story. I pray that the people that read this actually apply the lesson here. I am a bit like Baylor. If I stand in line next to you I am probably going to start talking to you. I have been so blessed by those I have met, learned from, comforted, laughed with, cried with and so many other interactions to numerous to count.

    It is always amazing to me that so many people decide to live in fear. Will they think I’m weird? Will they think I’m trying to hit on them? Wow, he looks like a mean guy maybe he will hurt me.

    I can promise you this. Most people will same something and before you know it you have a conversation going. Rarely will you be rebuked for foung so. Never have I been attacked physically. Never has someone followed me home and thrown rocks at my house. Buy more times then I can count a smile has vome to their face and their day has been uplifted, even if just gor a moment. Isn’t that what we are here for, to lift each other up? Just like Tonys’life was not only changed, but even saved, you have no idea how you may change someone else’s life.

  • Marie Clayton

    This is exactly what I hope to see happening more in this world. I teach a massive open online course about the theory of Human Caring from a nurse theorist, Jean Watson. All of your caring behaviors and mindfulness is exactly what this class is about. It is neat to have a theory that validates and articulates what seems to be too abstract. It is in learning about the elements that we can see how to be even more effective. Let me know if you and/or Tony would like to take the next free offering in May. You go to Canvas.net and can sign up in March. Thanks so much for sharing your experience and for being such a force of love!

  • Rachel

    Hi Sadie!!! What an amazing story. You and Jeff are so awesome to be helping this wonderful kid!!! I thought I’d pass on that there is counseling at an adjusted rate (and sometimes free) at Argossy University and University if Phoenix. He would be working with students learning to be therapists but they are under direct supervision by a licensed therapist so the treatment really is great for the price. Just thought it might be a good fit for Tony since money is right. Good luck!!!

  • Katie


  • Monica

    What a beautiful story! I hope we will continue to hear wonderful things about your family!


  • Alyssa

    Oh my word. Love this so much. It’s such a challenging balance to strike with my kids. I have 5 kids and they are older, ranging from 14-2 years. We have to be honest about so many alternative things with life in today’s world, so that can have understanding but also teaching that empathy and love is the most important thing. God loves all of us, no matter our choices.
    I have a firm belief in tender mercies and you guys were in the right place at the right time. What an incredible person Tony is. Good luck and God bless!!

  • Kathy Hoffman

    This is an awe inspiring story…I love how lives can be changed if we are following the direction of the Spirit. Thank you so much for taking the time to share this with us.

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