Thanksgiving

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade is on the TV, as it is every Thanksgiving morning. My grandma was a firm believer in this Parade, and would even get up early to watch it live, sipping her Sanka and making me a grilled cheese sandwich and frozen red grapes. As an adult, I don’t particularly care for parades, let alone parades on tv that are spliced and diced- but it would not be Thanksgiving for me without Al Roker yelling at me and the Rockettes freezing their cute tushies off while they slip around in the New York cold. [Read more…]

Pillars of My Faith

Along with Steve Evans and J. Stapley, I was honored to present as part of the Pillars of My Faith at Sunstone Northwest this last Saturday. Most of this story will be familiar to anyone who’s followed my journey, but I agreed to post and share my thoughts. Thanks also to Molly Bennion and Mary Ellen Robertson for all the good work they devote to others.

The pillars of my faith are planted in soil that is still soft and freshly turned. The ground where they rest is still marred by the plow, loamy and verdant from only relatively recently having been broken and turned. This lose fresh soil makes my pillars more like stakes, sprouts… wisps of what they may someday be, but the seeds are planted nonetheless, and I have seen the seeds sprout that may someday have the breadth of pillars, the strength of cedars. Not yet, but the promise makes me gasp in awe, and make me willing to gamble on faith. [Read more…]

Unanswered Prayers

…it’s all going to be all right. You and your family will be fine, and you are not to worry…

Those were the words I used to close my last post. It’s with a mix of reverence and perplexed bemusement that I contemplate them now. After two years of unemployment, a son diagnosed with autism, and my husband making choices that were beyond my control, I find myself still tremendously comforted by those words, and oddly, they have more meaning to me today, in the middle of a divorce, than they did then. [Read more…]

My Sophomore Talk

bryson,canolaI gave this talk this morning in my ward. It’s my second in 7 years of membership. The photograph is from a friend’s mission to Canada.

We are a living church. One of our greatest blessings is that we belong to a church with continuing, ongoing revelation. The heavens are open. Most Christian denominations have a closed canon of scriptures, meaning that they believe the Bible contains all of God’s words to his children, and that nothing further can be added or will be given to the earth. The heavens are thus sealed to Mankind. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints, we reject this notion. We believe in an open canon- meaning we have the limitless and hope-filled potential for more binding revelation to be given and received.

Joseph Smith wrote, in the ninth article of faith, “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and all that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” [Read more…]

Prayer and the Plumber

ando-hiroshige-hiroshige--navaro-rapidsExtended Unemployment. Simple little words, but words that have rocked my world. Who knew? I mean, when this all started nineteen months ago, we were so confident it was nothing more than a minor blip- a new job would surely materialize quickly- We’d never even heard of someone who wanted to work actually being unable to find a job. We figured we’d call some connections, float some resumes and something would come up. Tick… tick… tick… tick… the weeks turned into months, and more surprises surfaced in our lives.

My husband suffered some unexpected health issues, and without medical insurance (because earlier we had to decide: Mortgage? Or COBRA?) we were saddled with some hefty bills. Recovery and therapy followed. Tick… tick… tick… We had our six-months reserves, as counselled. We had our credit cards paid off. Our modest cars and student loans were paid off.

My husband picked up odd jobs where he could, while continuing his search. We paid a headhunter to help us. We broadened our horizons, looking in other cities. At one temp-job, my husband broke his hand in some machinery. More medical bills. Tick… tick… tick… At the same time, our youngest son was officially diagnosed with Autism, and we began learning a new language. [Read more…]

Husband Wife Man Woman

50skitchenJust back from running errands, I kicked my shoes into the basket by the door, and dropped my keys on the piano. Hollering a greeting to David, I ran upstairs to my bathroom, grabbed some clean folded clothes from the basket on the bed, and turned on the hot water. After my scalding shower, the kids came to greet me and we played before a phone call pulled me away.

Heading downstairs, I kissed my husband on the cheek and asked how his day was going- standing at the kitchen sink with suds on his muscular forearms, he frowned, “Abby’s pooped three times. Did you notice the bathroom?”

The phone rang again- holding up my finger and whispering that I loved him, I nodded and took the call. I was late for a meeting with a cabinet maker I’m doing some freelance murals for, and I hated to shower and run, but I was going to be late. I grabbed my purse, blew kisses, headed towards the garage and hit the opener “What time will you be back? Don’t forget family night tonight…” I waved through the windshield, shouting over the engine that I would be back on time- and that my phone was on if he needed me. Wiping his hands on the dishtowel, he stood in the doorway, watching me back out of the driveway… [Read more…]

More Mormon

Ten years ago, while preparing for my own marriage, I was also looking into Judaism. I had taken some Hebrew classes and attended temple at my local synagogue, and found the traditions and history especially rich and fascinating. As an artist and a soon-to be bride, I was especially drawn to the tradition of the Ketubah. In ancient times the Ketubah was a marriage agreement written up as protection for the bride. As part of the wedding ceremony, it was read under the chuppa, and was signed by the Rabbi and by witnesses. It is still done today.

Ketubah are quite beautiful, and often are seen framed in Jewish homes. The artwork can be elaborate or simple, modern or archaic and the wording, with a few exceptions, reflects personal choices of the couple. I found this a lovely tradition and decided to make something similar for myself and my husband. [Read more…]

A Study in Contrasts: The Dole

Continuing our theme this week… Almost seventeen months ago, my husband lost his job. We had our six-months reserves, we had our cars and student loans paid off, we had our food storage and our credit cards were empty. We did everything we were counselled to do. We cashed in our 401K, pared down our expenses and tried to stretch our dollar, making our six months savings last almost a year and half. In these months, we’ve also accumulated over 300 rejection letters for the jobs my husband has applied for in three states.

Today, we are out of rope. The savings are gone. The 401K is gone. The unemployment insurance is gone. We don’t know what comes next. But here is what I can see from where I stand… [Read more…]

A Bumbling Disciple Indeed

My husband and I teach Sunday School in our new ward. Our class of 13-year-old kids  are bright, interesting and they have a lot to offer our discussions. We often let the kids take the lead- even letting them teach the lesson every other Sunday- and while that might be a little unconventional, it works well for this group. We use the manual as our guidelines, but are also open to following questions where they may lead.  [Read more…]

Rambling Frustrated Thoughts on Motherhood

Last night, after picking up the umpteenth dirty sock-wad, after doing my third load of laundry, after telling the boys for the 6th time to get their jammies on, after stepping in yogurt blobs on the floor after I TOLD them not to eat in the living room, I lost it.

Feeling bad, but still simmering, I went upstairs to get myself ready for bed- only to find my room torn apart; stuff from under the bed strewn about, a package I received in the mail was opened and scattered, and my new tights for the cold weather were opened and tied around the bed posts. I really lost it. Dropped my basket, so to speak. [Read more…]

Candlestick Salad

This candle will brighten your holiday and it tastes wonderful! [Read more…]

Road Trip, or Conversion Happens at the Darndest Times

Late this summer, I took my six year-old son Jeffrey on his first road trip. Headed to Salt Lake for a conference, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for bonding time before school started. It might have been quicker to fly, but seriously, road trips are a rite of passage I wanted to share with him. There would be other kids at the conference, and I would have plenty of free time. He was excited to go, and piled his pillows and toys in the backseat with puppy-like exuberance.

Ten hours and a ghastly amount of “Are we there yet?” later, we pulled into our Salt Lake City hotel. Our room was right off the pool, and I promised my tired boy we would hit the water as soon as we got dinner. We unpacked and decided to walk to a restaurant up the street. [Read more…]

Oh, Did I Forget to Tell You?

On Thursday, no appointment, no arrangement, bee in my bonnet, I camped out at my bishop’s office door. In all fairness, I did email to warn him- it’s time for my Recommend. We have been dancing around this for years now, and this week was my personal Appomattox. For no reason in particular, it was time. And when I say it was time, I meant now.

At 9:33 on Thursday night, I left the Stake Presidents office with a bright, shiny, signed living endowment recommend and a two-year, bar-coded, bona fide Temple Recommend. [Read more…]

Needing to Breathe

Trying to decide what to tell your kids, if anything, about suicide is horrible. My husband’s brother took his own life Thursday. And I’m still waiting for the blast waves to wash over this already fragile family of mine. My husband and his mom are flying to bury their brother/son; the ache and sadness are beyond words. It’s coloring everything I see and feel- including the sunrises I’ve been watching because I cannot sleep. I just cry and cry, and I wasn’t even close to this sibling. It’s unfathomably sad he felt suicide was his best choice. Those left behind are fractured and devastated. [Read more…]

Fresh Eyes on the Beehive

Last time I was in Salt Lake City was on the back of my boyfriend’s Harley Davidson, no helmet, braids blowing from under a pink bandana, headed towards South Dakota. Now, a dozen years down the road, safely buckled in a car with my six year-old son, the bikers rumbled past, headed east for that same bike rally, always held the first week of August. [Read more…]

Smoke and Mirrors

There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” Zora Neale Hurston

When I was younger, and thought I understood things, I yearned for Answer years. Of course, I was up to my collarbones in Asking years- immersed in the joy and luxury of contemplating life’s Big questions. In my naiveté, I often wondered what was more difficult- asking or getting my answers. Occasionally I would catch glimpses of an Answer- a fleeing shadow, the dry shaded rustle of the unknown on the edge of my vision. But like a child playing with matches who hasn’t yet seen fire, there was no framework to comprehend those Answers. [Read more…]

Midnight at the Humble Market

The coupons were concealed carefully inside my purse, but I had to keep peeking at the list to see what was approved for me to purchase. A dozen eggs, four gallons of milk, some breakfast cereal of specific brand, cheese- all carefully lined out on the coupons the nice lady at the WIC center had given me. [Read more…]

Following the Precedent

So, following the news this morning… If Roger Clemens, a resident of Houston, really had an affair with a 15 year-old, why doesn’t the great state of Texas raid his home and take his children away from him? And maybe, while they’re at it, they could take his neighbor’s kids, just to be safe?

Quick Like a Glacier

It’s been almost five and half years since I stepped into the baptism font and joined the rank and file of the Mormons. My husband followed me into the waters just over two years later. The clock thus started ticking; in Mormon time, we are officially two and half years late for the Temple. [Read more…]

A Little Fervency

Right now, life should be a bucket of rocks. My husband was laid-off a few weeks ago, we have three small children, and we bought a new house last year. You would think, with all that, things would be really scary and hard- and yet… and yet… I find myself shaking my head in wonder, because we’re in the best spiritual place we’ve ever been.

Do you all know how amazing this church is? Do you? Again, my convert eyes allow me to marvel at the work done, in the name of Christ, for the service of man. Case in point: The Bishop’s Storehouse. [Read more…]

Merry Christmas

These are the best hours of the whole year. Not the chaos and hoopla and clatter of joyful children that come with dawn’s first light- while those are wonderful too- what I love most is the soft, pregnant richness of Christmas Eve.

The babies are settled into their beds, tucked in for the tenth time already, their eyes sparkling with anticipation and their teeth chattering with excitment. Sleep won’t come quick for them- but then, neither will it for parents tonight. The house settles down, the old timbers creek and familiar sounds come to rest for the night. The stockings are hung by the chimney with care, and cookies and a glass of orange juice silently await some midnight nibbling, should any old visitor need some refreshment.

Tomorrow, we will have tired eyes as we follow the bounding bundles of childhood down our curving staircase to see what surprises await- and that is it’s own type of joy. But for now, I relish the quiet. I relish the solitude, when I can take a few moments and think of what a blessing my life is, how richly the Lord has shed his light in my life, and how profoundly grateful I am for this ultimate gift- finding faith and knowing Jesus Christ.

Happy Christmas, indeed.

Happy Yule

A little history: Once upon a time, long ago, I was a practicing Pagan. Generally, it’s not what many people imagine- Pagans, despite the use of the inverted pentacle, don’t believe in Satan or ritually practice violence. There was nothing unseemly, and other than conducting some rituals skyclad (naked), it was an interesting and rich period of my life. [Read more…]

Hypothetically

Franz and Gretel are converts of a few years. They have a few of children, and are doing their best to institute all the changes the Gospel brought to their lives, but sometimes they fall short. They also have tremendous extended family pressures against the Church. It has caused rifts in personal relationships, including with their mothers. [Read more…]

Fears

This was posted a while back on my personal site. Occasionally, a mommy-blogger gets noticed, and this morning, at about the same time I received a small award for this piece of writing, I also received a phone call about a loved one who is likely headed to the combat zone. Makes it especially poignant, I think. [Read more…]

Support of Doubters

Recently, I had the privilege of becoming the confident of a Church member who is struggling with extreme doubt about his faith. This man is the husband of a friend of mine, and both husband and wife come from old-line Mormon families. He found me through the blogs, and he and his wife approached me one Sunday with questions.

This opened up some serious dialogue that was better moved from the Church foyer to our living room. Ignoring the fact that I feel totally unqualified to offer spiritual advice, I was able to offer a sympathetic ear and a forum free of judgment. [Read more…]

Why We Go

Church was good today. [Read more…]

The Confundus Curse and My Inaugural Talk…

9:00 p.m.
Who thought it was funny to give a bookworm convert her very first Sacrament Meeting talk the same week the magnum opus of one Mr. Harry Potter was released? Who. My Bishop, that’s who. And due to total lack of discipline and complete disregarded for my own goals, here I sit, 9:13 on Saturday night, no talk, a pile of notes, some e-mails and a thoroughly ingested, already dog-eared copy of The Deathly Hallows. Priorities, eh.

My talk was supposed to be spring boarded from a talk by President Faust from 2004- along the lines of making sure we’re getting the right spiritual messages. Yeah, I spent the last few days chewing my cuticles as I wondered where Neville got the Sword of Gryffindor at the very last possible minute, and wondering “Why Dobby, why?”- I think I missed the message…

It’s not the first time I’ve missed the message. [Read more…]

Respectful Distance

Before I joined the LDS church, I spent years researching and trying out other religions. Along that path, it’s no surprise that I found many things of value in other traditions. There were oddball (to me) ideas I stumbled on as well, but that’s another post another day.

While in college, I cared for a little boy from a Jewish family. His family often included me in holidays and invited me to simple Sabbath dinners. It was here I developed an appreciation for the tradition, heritage and beauty of the Jewish faith. As a matter of disclosure, had I not discovered the LDS faith, I was on my way to Judaism. [Read more…]

Mustard Seed Sprouting

Five years ago, I first walked into an LDS chapel, with a squirmy babe-in-arms, and sat alone in the back, amazed by the parade of young people bearing their testimonies. At that meeting, the vocabulary and vernacular was unfamiliar, but the spirit present was what I had been seeking. I didn’t “know” much, but I knew I was coming back.

Until today, I have stood to bear my testimony only twice. Both times, I was strongly moved to do so, but my testimony has never mirrored those of my ward brothers and sisters. It marvels me that folks I know and hold dear stand up and state with surety that they “Know” something… “Know” the church is true. “Know” the Savior lives. “Know” Joseph was a prophet. [Read more…]

History 101: Emmeline B. Wells

By the time Emmeline Blanche Woodward was fourteen, she had already lost her father, finished school at the New Salem Academy, become a teacher and was on her way to her first marriage. Her betrothed, James Harris, was the 15 year-old son of the local Mormon leader, and soon Emmeline and her family were baptized members of the LDS Church.

Less than a year later, Emmeline and her family joined the church migration of the Saints to Nauvoo, Illinois. Sadness and grief marked her short time in Nauvoo, where her first child died shortly after birth, and her husband abandoned her. Carol Cornwall Madsen described this time in Emmeline’s life: [Read more…]

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