Sunday, September 27, 2009

Relief Society General Meeting

I am getting ready to go to Sunday School and Relief Society with the kids, so this will have to be quick, but I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed the General Relief Society meeting last night.

Barbara Thompsen gave a wonderful talk about "minding the gap" and she spoke of gaps between (1) The way we see ourselves and the way God sees us, (2) young women and Relief Society, and (3) Believing that Christ is our Savior and knowing that he is and what that means.

Gap #1 is definitely something I have problems with. I feel like I know of my Heavenly Father's love for me, but for some reason I cannot feel that same way about myself. My self-worth took some major hits this week due to some issues with some friends. The good thing about hitting rock-bottom is that there is nowhere to go but up.

Gap #2 is what affected me the most. Although she spoke of how younger women sometimes take a break from church attendance after they have left the young women program because they do not feel like they fit in with the Relief Society women, I heard a different message for myself. I have been inclined to take a "break" or cause a "gap" in my church attendance while I let my thoughts and feelings (and bitterness) subside. But I felt through this talk that perhaps I shouldn't, no matter how hard it might be, because if I do, I might never go back, and I'm not sure that I am ready for that possibility.

The last talk was given by Elder Eyring. As he stood up to approach the stand, I was filled with a great love for him and for the other members of the first presidency. I know that they are called of God and that they sincerely do love all of the members of the church. I just wanted to pass that feeling along. If what I felt is not "sustaining" my church leaders, I don't know what is.

Following the meeting, I had a chance to visit with my mother and my sister (and my dad, when I was taking my mom home) about the articles in the Deseret News last weekend (about Affirmation and Evergreen conferences) and other gay issues that have been in the news this week (like the acquittal of a gay man who was beat up for kidnapping.) I don't talk to my parents much about this stuff, so it was kind of nice to do so.

Anyway, I'd better be off to church!

Monday, September 21, 2009


After two and a half days at the Affirmation conference, last night I was feeling more peace than I have for a long time, especially in the last 3 weeks. I found myself humming the melody of the hymn "Do What is Right". When I got to the chorus, I subconsciously started singing the words, and then realized how appropriate the message was:
Do what is right, let the consequence follow
Battle for freedom in spirit and might.
And with stout hearts look ye forth till tomorrow.

God will protect you; then do what is right!

(I just realized that I have actually blogged about this hymn before!)

One of the mothers I met at the banquet Saturday night (the one who is active LDS and had to fight once to keep her recommend) said a few words to the entire group when accepting an award. One thing she said is, "You are my people. I love being with you, the gay and lesbian members of the church." It was amazing to hear these words out of the mouth of a straight, white-haired, 80 (?) year-old woman. I felt the power in her words, because I agree with them whole-heartedly. I was reminded of a scripture from the Bible:

And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. (Ruth 1:16)

Carol Lynn Pearson also spoke at the same banquet. She spoke of her Stake President and the effort he is making to help the members of the stake understand homosexuality. Here is her explanation of that from a newsletter that she emails to anyone who wishes to get it:

Last Sunday and the Sunday before, my stake presidency--three of the finest men you're going to find on the planet--gave presentations to all the adults in every ward in our stake in the "fifth Sunday" time slot they frequently utilize. In the words of my stake president, Dean Criddle:

"All of our remarks throughout the presentations were anchored on a statement drawn from a 1991 letter from the First Presidency encouraging 'Church leaders and members to reach out with love and understanding' to those experiencing homosexuality. We also focused our Stake members' attention on similar, supporting statements included in articles by Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in 1995 and 2007 issues of the Ensign, the 2007 pamphlet, God Loveth His Children, and the interview with Elder Oaks and Elder Lance Wickman posted at the LDS Newsroom ('Same Gender Attraction') on the Church website. Some of our major points were:

1. Our sexual orientation (which gives rise to unbidden feelings and impulses) does not appear to be a matter of choice, nor does it call for blame.
2. Heterosexual marriage is not a 'cure' for homosexual feelings.
3. Members of the Oakland Stake must be sensitive to the unusual burdens placed on members of our Church who experience homosexual impulses and not contribute to a hopelessness that drives some to despair and even suicide.
4. Parents especially are called upon to show love and support for a child who brings them the news that he/she is experiencing homosexual feelings.
5. A Church member who experiences homosexual impulses but is willing to follow the Church's code of behavior is entirely worthy to hold high positions in the Church.
6. Our responsibility and opportunity is to show Christlike love and respect for all of our brothers and sisters----in our families, our neighborhoods, our places of work and our Church.
7. Without condoning conduct inconsistent with the teachings of the Church, members have a duty to show love even to those who choose other life paths.

"The instruction we gave included nothing new. It was just a gentle reminder that all Church members at baptism covenant to 'bear one another's burdens, that they may be light.' (Mosiah 18:8-10)"

A member of each ward participated, sharing life experiences that added to the impact of the event. From members of my own ward and other wards, I have heard nothing but very appreciative comments about this important counsel--"Such a healing experience for our family"--"Absolutely right on--we all needed that"--"A very large step in the right direction."
Back to the banquet...She also spoke of small gatherings she has begun having in her home with members of her ward with one of her gay friends in attendance to help them learn and understand. So far, the results have been very positive. This coming week she has invited the Relief Society Presidency.

The main message that she ended with was that we should each follow a path that leads us to peace and happiness, whatever that might be. She repeated it with passion, and I felt it pierce my heart and soul. I have been so unhappy since trying to obtain a new temple recommend. It has been about as far from peace and happiness as I can be. Maybe another path is in order? (Dare I say that on this blog? Honestly, I'm not sure I care any more.)

Sunday came some of the neatest experiences ever. We attended a devotional (again, part of the Affirmation conference) and were privileged to sing "I'll Walk with You" with Carol Lynn leading it. I've mentioned it in a previous blog post, but she was asked to write this primary song for children that don't always fit in, and as she wrote it, she thought of children that will grow up in the church and figure out that they are gay. It was a sweet experience to hear the beautiful voices of gay and lesbian Mormons (and former Mormons) and family members that love them, with Carol Lyn standing before us.

The entire devotional was wonderful. It included several songs, including one commissioned for the conference, and some beautiful scriptures, Moroni 7:42-48 and Matthew 5:1-16. The best part, though, was the closing hymn. A soloist sang the first verse of "God Be with You Till We Meet Again" and then the congregation joined in on the 2nd verse. By the beginning of the 3rd verse, people began to stand up. By the last chorus, we were all linked hand-in-hand and many of us were balling our eyes out. It was an incredible experience.
God be with you till we meet again;
When life’s perils thick confound you,
Put his arms unfailing round you.
God be with you till we meet again.
God be with you till we meet again;
Keep love’s banner floating o’er you;
Smite death’s threat’ning wave before you.
God be with you till we meet again.

Till we meet, till we meet,
Till we meet at Jesus’ feet,
Till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.
The last thought we heard last night before we decided we needed to leave to get home to our children was at a "Family Fellowship" meeting (a support group for members of the church with gay family members). A few parents were paying tribute to their gay sons and daughters. The love they showed was incredible. The mother that was speaking right before we left said something to the affect of "Many say that they are against gay marriage because it is a moral issue. But I have a different idea of what is immoral. I believe it is immoral to push gay people to the point of suicide. I believe it is immoral for me NOT to stand up for the rights of my gay child."

Amen to that.

I believe that I am following the right path. Peace is a sweet feeling.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Family Friendly FHE

A friend reminded me that we had scheduled a family-friendly FHE for tomorrow night, 7 p.m., our house (email if you need address/directions). We have not officially had one yet, so this is a debut event! Please shoot me an email to let me know you are coming. My daughter and/or I will plan a short kid-friendly lesson and then we can play games. Please bring a treat to share if you can. Anyone is welcome to come, regardless of whether or not you have children to bring with you. Just be aware that the lesson will be geared toward the children.

Oh, and since I have been gone to the Affirmation conference all weekend and we left our 4 kids at home by themselves (don't fret--the 13-year-old is a great babysitter and we were home during the night and morning each day), AND I have to work tomorrow of course, please forgive me if I don't get the house as clean as I usually do before a moho party. :)

So much for simplifying our lives. We just can't seem to stop planning things; we love our friends too much!

Blog Friends at Affirmation

Check out this article about my blog reader, Alanna! She is famous! I have been hanging out with her and her husband all weekend and it has been so good for my soul! They are such wonderful people and I am honored to call them friends.

Gay Mormons seek to be LDS on own terms

(Article cut and pasted below so that I still have it when it is archived!)

My only regret is that I missed the workshop that she is talking about here because I think it is exactly what I needed, but spending time with my kids that morning instead was more important for me and for them. I did get to talk to Emily later. The whole conference has given me a lot to think about on both sides of the issue. Some of my thoughts will be on my other blog within a few days.

The most compassionate people I met, though, are parents that are older. It is like imagining my own parents with that much understanding, and it is amazing! They have been speaking up for gay rights since the 80's or 90's, but are still very active in the church and temple recommend holders even though they never shrink at the chance to advocate for their kids regarding gay rights, including marriage. One of them (being honored at the banquet) spoke of a time when her bishop was not sure he wanted to give her a recommend. She stood up and firmly said, "Well, if I have to choose, I choose to love as our Savior did." Her husband then went in and told the bishop what's what, and she left with her recommend and has never been questioned since. I want to move into her ward. :)

Their advice to me was to stay active because there must be some of us there to fight from within. One of them cried with me as I shared my story, and I felt of her heartfelt compassion toward Scott and I even though she had never met us.

Even though I really needed some time to rest this weekend instead of being busy attending the conference, it has also been very timely with regards to what is happening in our lives. The Lord's timing with everything the last year and a half has been amazing, and I cannot deny that His hand is in our lives.

Gay Mormons seek to be LDS on own terms

By Lana Groves
Published: Saturday, Sept. 19, 2009 11:24 p.m. MDT

Alanna Farnsworth had no one to talk to when her son told her he was gay.

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Farnsworth wanted to discuss this new development with other LDS parents of children who had come out as gay.

She gained renewed hope Saturday while listening to Emily Pearson discuss her experiences and own ideas about staying true to yourself despite sexual identity.

Pearson's mother, Carolyn Pearson, is the author of "Goodbye, I Love You," which tells the story of her marriage to a gay Mormon man.

"I was on the whole church bandwagon about homosexuals," said Farnsworth, a Vermont woman who visited Salt Lake City on Saturday for the Affirmation Conference, an annual series of forums and lectures for gay and lesbian Mormons.

"I didn't believe it was right," she said. "But suddenly, my son, who's my most spiritual child, shares with me that he's gay. I know his heart. I went looking for as many stories about gay LDS men as possible."

Many LDS and former LDS men and women shared their experiences growing up in the church and their struggles to accept the church's position of denouncing same-sex marriage while being true to their own beliefs.
Story continues below

Pearson described herself as "very Mormon" growing up, which made for a difficult reconciliation since her gay father died from AIDS, and her ex-husband later identified himself as gay.

"You're taught that anything outside the structure of Mormonism isn't right," Pearson said. "The idea of a God that makes you jump through hoops, that says you're not supposed to be gay, is just wrong. The truth is, not only does God not care, but he loves each and every one of us."

Pearson left the LDS Church awhile ago after what she called an epiphany in which she "gripped her desk at work," realizing that people have to follow what's in their heart, not what those around them tell them to do.

Pearson's advice that gay and lesbian Mormons have to be "Mormon on their own terms" struck a chord with several listeners.

Willy Star Marshall, a gay man who traveled from Big Water in Kane County for the conference, said he's thought about returning to the church. But just as Pearson advised, Marshall said he would want it to be on his own terms.

"I do know some people who've done that, but it's a hard idea after so many years," he said. "Orthodox Mormons would disagree, but you really do have to be Mormon on your own terms. The things you're not comfortable with, you have to let them go."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

One and Only You

As promised, by Michael McClean from Distant Serenade:

There is a place here that only you can fill.
And this empty space awaits the magic you instill.
For your warm embrace does what nothing else can do.
You're second to none because you're the one and only you.

Something was missing until you came along.
And someone's been wishing you would fill their heart with song.
For no other melody can touch them like you do.
Their song goes unsung if not for the one and only you.

So don't waste your energy
Chasing a destiny
You were not sent here to claim.
That isn't the reason you came,
And you know that it's true.
You cannot truly be anything else,
So reach for the best in yourself.
You're more than a miracle;
You're the original you!

And if you should wonder if this could be the truth,
The hearts you have lifted up are more than living proof.
And if you are listening, a message is coming through
With thanks from above and love for the one and only you.

So which path is mine? The Stake President believes it is one direction and I have believed it is another. Am I "wasting [my] energy chasing a destiny [I] was not sent here to claim" ? Is there any way of following both paths at the same time? Where have I lifted more hearts, through my church callings in my ward or through my blog and parties, etc.? I am facing some tough decisions.  Wish I could go to the temple and pray about them. :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Irony or Coincidence?

(Originally posted on my new blog:

Why is it that our temple recommends expired within 2 weeks or so of the following:

  • Tonight our stake had a "Family History Jeopardy" night. Members of the stake competed with questions about the new church website for documenting family information and temple work. In between rounds of "jeopardy", each ward had a prepared "commercial". Our oldest 2 children were asked to participate weeks ago, and so we went to support them. And of course the overall theme of the "show" was doing our family history work and then reaping the blessings of attending the temple and completing the ordinances for family names.
  • Also mentioned was Stake Temple day, which is tomorrow. There is a special meeting in the chapel and then a dinner, which we signed up to attend the morning of our infamous recommend interviews. Before the closing prayer tonight, the temple day was mentioned, especially regarding the blessings we will receive from attending. (I unexpectedly lost control of my emotion at that point and sobbed through the closing prayer.)
  • My mom has some names that need temple work done. This doesn't happen very often because so much of it has already been done. She has plans for the sealing, specifically, to be done by her, me, my sister and my brother, because that is how many people we will need. I haven't told her anything yet about my recommend, and I hope I won't have to. The baptisms haven't been done yet by the kids, so we still have some time. But not enough time if this isn't resolved with the Stake President on Sunday.
  • Also, Scott and I have not attended the temple for a few months and have really had no desire to do so. But during the month of August, I kept feeling like I wanted to go, but we could not figure out a time to schedule in a trip, and so we never did. I kept thinking I would go early some morning or something (maybe even by myself) but I never did. (I just sat around being depressed with no motivation to get myself anywhere.) The day we talked to the Bishop, the main thing I kept thinking about was the fact that I never acted on the prompting to go.

Anyway, is this all just coincidence, or does it mean something?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Thanks Pres. Obama

Loved the speech!

L O V E D I T!

I had chills the entire 20 minutes.

And no, I wasn't cold.

It is about time that someone in charge hold the STUDENTS accountable instead of just punishing the teachers. NCLB (No child left behind) is the worst thing to have ever happened to teacher morale. And when teachers ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. And then the learning just don't happen, because all the teachers care about any more is enforcing policy and teaching to the tests, instead of loving and teaching the children about things that really matter.

Anyway, I haven't paid close attention to why the republicans (and it seems like quite a few Mormons) are in such an uproar over this man. (And no, that is not an invitation for you to tell me everything he is doing wrong. I really don't want to know or need to worry about that on top of everything else in my life.)

But let it be said one more time that I believe his speech was awesome.

Some of my favorite parts:

Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.
But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.
I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.
But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.
That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.
No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.
And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.
The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.
and especially

That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn.
Amen and Amen!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Crazy Roller Coaster

It has been a roller coaster week, with much crying over my lack of temple recommend and my anxiety regarding church, and also with much celebrating over gay-straight alliance clubs and good friends, both in this community and in my ward. (In case you are not sure what is going on, Scott explains it well on his blog.)

Last Monday afternoon, I picked up my kids from school (I usually walk, but this time had the car) and we were just heading to the car when we met up with one of my neighbors. (Her son used to walk with us, but now he is riding his bike so I was confused why she was there.) She told me that she thought I might need someone to talk to. It turns out that she knew something was up with us because her husband (our home teacher) was called to help Scott give me a blessing Sunday night (to calm me from my insanity at that point). She kept thinking about me on Monday, knew she had heard me mention "blogging", and then "Googled" until she found my blog and read my post. I was incredibly touched by her effort and willingness to reach out to me.

Wednesday night when I drove my daughter to the church for Young Women's, even the anxiety I felt at driving her there (without even seeing anyone or going in the building) concerned me for how I was ever going to be able to handle attending church there again.

Every morning during the week I was left to my own thoughts while getting ready for school. I envisioned myself bearing my testimony on Sunday and saying goodbye to my ward. But the words that went through my head were bitter and painful, and probably not appropriate. Every time I even pictured seeing the bishop's face, I started having a panic attack. Even thought I have never been physically abused, I wondered if what I was feeling was possibly the result of verbal, emotional, and even spiritual abuse. I arrived at work a couple of mornings in a state of hyperventilation because I had been thinking about the bishop on the drive there.

Monday or Tuesday night I was again wracked with torment, sobbing uncontrollably. Scott helped me think through the options. Every possibility we thought of seemed to make my mental state worse: keep going to church, stop going to church...blah, blah, blah. Finally, I found peace and stopped sobbing when we discussed the possibility of attending a different ward, maybe even across town with family or other friends. We talked to our children about it and asked them to think about the possibility and be honest with us.

By Thursday, we had not made any definite decisions since we were not yet able to meet with the Stake President (we finally have an appointment for NEXT Sunday). But I did decide that Scott and I would stay home on Sunday and read some church books in peace and quiet while Hidden and Over-the-Rainbow took our kids to church. I was happy with the decision for this week, knowing that we could continue to discuss our options and make a final decision later, perhaps with the S.P.'s help. We had everything planned out.

Then I woke up to my alarm this morning and could not go back to sleep. I was nervous and unsettled. I prayed to understand my nervousness, and got the answer that I needed to go to church. Wow. I immediately got up and started getting ready, and soon we were all in our normal Sunday morning routine.

As I was getting ready, a new "testimony" for today was going through my head, not one of goodbye, but one about my testimony of the Prophet and of the gospel, of following a path that associated with the down-trodden, just like our Savior when He served his ministry.

During Sacrament meeting, I did not feel inclined to bear my testimony. The prompting never came, so I didn't. But going through it in my head before the meeting was good for me. The meetings were good. I had no anxiety being there. The only discomfort at all was a twinge of sorrow when they announced Stake Temple day this upcoming week, including a meeting in the chapel and a dinner in the cafeteria. We had signed up for the dinner last week before finding out that we would not be able to go.

Relief Society was about compassion. At one point during the lesson it felt right for me to speak up. I spoke of how I never realized that choosing to be compassionate could result in such sacrifice. That it was forcing me to choose between two wonderful things (read: moho parties and associating with my gay friends vs. keeping my temple recommend) and that even thought it was hard, I had to choose compassion. When I began to speak, I was completely stable and did not think I would become emotional, but I did toward the end of my comment. Over-the-rainbow and one or two other readers of my blog in the room knew exactly what I was talking about. A couple of others reached out to me after the meeting, and without telling them what was going on, I told them that I had planned not to be there today, but that I was glad I had come. They expressed their love and gratitude for me.

I know I have dragged all of you on this roller coaster ride with me. I have no idea where it is going or where it will end up. All I know is that God is guiding my life, and in the end, everything will have had a purpose and will have been for the best.

Thank you for your love and prayers.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

X-Men quote to note

Deep thought from a night watching X2 with the family:

NightCrawler (the blue teleporting guy with a tail), who has had to live his life either in the circus or hiding in an abandoned church because of the way he looks, approaches Mystique (the blue shape-shifting lady) to ask her some questions:

NightCrawler: “Excuse me. They say you can imitate anybody. Even their voice.”

Mystique: (echoing NightCrawler’s voice) “Even their voice.”

NightCrawler: “Then why not stay in disguise all the time? You know, look like everyone else?”

Mystique: “Because we shouldn’t have to.”