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...]
“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...]
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...]
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?
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...]
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...]
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.
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...]
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...]
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...]
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...]
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...]
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...]
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...]
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...]
Blame it on babies- nursing, pregnant, in utero, babies. At first, I couldn’t figure out how in the world we made it four years and never fasted; then I remembered the babies… For the last four years I have
pretty much totally been either nursing or pregnant- and thus not a prime candidate to fast.
Yesterday, not nursing, and not (please!) pregnant, I finally jumped in the water. [Read more...]
No, I’m not leaving. Not even considering it. But…
It shouldn’t be this hard. I mean really, it’s just life, happening all around- no different, when we get down to brass tacks, than the life almost all of us are trying to live. It’s laundry, and housework, and little kids underfoot and into mischief. It’s bills and clients and trying to run a business between loads of diapers and feeding the baby. It’s carpool and dentist appointments and teacher conferences and fundraisers and extended family ties- and how many balls can we keep in the air at once?
In an effort to educate myself beyond the borders of the SS manual, I am putting together a series of posts on women and events in church history. Often as a newbie, I feel at a disadvantage when discussions turn to church history or historical figures outside of the first presidencies. There is too much I’m completely oblivious of, or of which I have only the barest inkling… and I’m going to do something about it.
There are some of you out there with vast stores of knowledge on our history- but I have this feeling there are many like me- folks who think “huh?” when a name or event is tossed in the ring. I’m tired of keeping quiet to hide my ignorance, and thus the nexus of this series.
Remind me why we do this. Please.
Remind me why it is important to drag ourselves to services each Sunday. Even though it’s been four years, I still feel like such a newbie on some things, and the last six Sundays have made me want to run screaming, and left me exhausted and frustrated.
If I could go to church alone, or with only my husband, I know I could be edified, lifted up, study the passages, heck, maybe I could even hear the sacrament talks and learn something. But “alone” is not my lot.
Getting five people ready for church every Sunday is a task many an LDS woman does. Some seem to do it better than others. I am definitely an “other” here. By the time we get everyone dressed and out the door, any wisp of the spirit has long departed us, and we are often mad at each other and the kids. [Read more...]
Shortly after the birth of our first child, my husband and I made the decision to bring our children up in faith. This was new, in particular for me, and something of a return, for my husband, who had been a practicing Buddhist for well over a decade. When we thought of what we wanted for our family, we both kept remembering LDS families we knew as kids- and how good those families were, without exception. That is one of the main things that brought us to the doors of our local Mormon church- 20 year old recollections of childhood friends. But it turned out, like so many things in life, those recollections were not as simple or one-dimensional as our child-minds understood.
Stuart Matis used to give me a ride home from school; his youngest sister and I were in the same grade, and the whole Matis family often included me in activities, in caroling, at dances, in games and always made me welcome. When Stuart killed himself on the steps of the Los Altos stake center in February of 2000, I was far from home, and had not seen or spoken to my friend in years. Shocked and sad, I wanted to reach out, but knew they didn’t need another long-lost person showing up on their doorstep. Time moved on, and thoughts of them receded. [Read more...]
When I first joined the Church, I did so with gusto. The exhilaration of finding long-yearned for answers- answers that did not disallow my own personal revelations, was almost narcotic. I still feel that way. For the most part.
My first Visiting Teacher was the Temple matriarch. My first Home Teacher was the Stake Patriarch. Sensitivity on the part of my bishop led to these stellar examples being a regular part of my life, and I was showered with the best examples of being Mormon. Framed temple pictures, photos of the prophets, Greg Olsen prints, the Proclamation and a dozen other symbols of my new faith were bestowed on me by kind ward members. Overwhelmed, I felt I had to display all of these things in order to be a “good Mormon” girl. All the other homes I visited had similar decorations; I must need them, right? I was grateful for the kindness of my new friends.
And yet… Somehow, these things were a like a tight shoe, slightly too small. [Read more...]
How does one balance honoring covenants with honoring family? Obviously, promises to God are greater than keeping familial harmony, but how do you “honor thy father and thy mother” when your parent(s) chose otherwise?
Part of the reason my husband and I have not gone to the Temple yet, despite having recommends, has do to with our extended family. As I already wrote, my family hates that I have chosen to be Mormon, and makes few allowances in their dealings with me. My husband’s family, while there are two other distant members, also is completely unsupportive. At every turn, it’s difficult, nigh unto impossible, to keep the family waters smooth.
When we go to the Temple, it will very likely be the last straw on my familial camel’s back. I am vacillating between jumping in with both feet, and being quite comfortable in my fence-sitting. I am in no hurry to make the relationship with my loved ones even more difficult, yet at the same time, I know, for my spiritual progression, there are more steps to be taken. [Read more...]
As a relatively new member, there are still tons of things I don’t understand. I was one who was very pleased to see the new member issue of the Ensign last month- and I hope Stakes keep back issues of it on hand for new converts.
Since we joined the Church, there have been many time where questions have come up, from the mundane, such as “What’s a Bishopric?”, to the more esoteric, “Why was the atonement necessary?”- Still waiting on answers for some, by the way. The Bloggernacle has been a stellar source of information for a new member- sometimes maybe too much information, and sometimes information I wish the Church addressed on its own, so new members wouldn’t have to find things out on the playground, such as it were. (I’m thinking specifically of Church history…)
Recently something happened that I don’t know what to do with- where to file it away, or if I have some sort of moral responsibility. So, I come to you, great and mighty Oz. [Read more...]
Childhood was the stuff of dreams- golden, ephemeral Maxfield Parrish dreams. Our home was built on old orchard land, in the California that used to be the fruit-basket of the state, but is now paved over and has a heart of Silicon.
Our property had plum, apricot, pear, cherry, avocado, almond, walnut, tangerine, orange and grapefruit trees- all of which found their way into my mother’s baked goods and preserves. We had chickens, rabbits, a goat (who once tried to eat my snarled mess of curly blonde hair) and a dozen dogs, which my dad used for hunting, as well as our pets. From the trappings of nature, my brothers’ and I created entire worlds in the yard. My aunt and her family lived one house down and my grandma only a few minutes beyond. Doors were always open; it was the upbringing many of us hope to give our children.
Since I have joined the Church, my family barely tolerates my presence. [Read more...]
Yesterday, Steve Evans informed me I have the honor of following Richard Bushman as a guest-poster at BCC. OH! Cool! The Richard Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, Richard Bushman? Sure, I’d love it if you posted me right behind him- me, sitting here with kids five, three and not-yet-one, in my fuzzy pink bathrobe with baby-spit spots, ignoring my kids’ pleas for more apple juice as I try and string together coherent thoughts? Greeeeaat. Yes, do let’s follow Mr. Bushman.
My name is Tracy M, and I am a convert. An adult convert, going on four years now. Married with three
Monkeys children. In a former life, I was an artist who got paid for making art, now I just make art to stay sane in a household where I am allegedly in charge, but really the Monkeys rule the roost. I write for myself and for Mormon Mommy Wars, as well as run a design company from my home. In my spare time I ignore e-mails from Steve Evans asking me to write for him, too.
So let’s talk about art. A few weeks ago, J. Daniel Crawford wrote an intriguing post on how terrible and shallow the pool is for LDS art. I have to agree with him- and his thesis. My own thesis is a little different, but I am looking at it from the vantage point of the artist: Happiness does not beget fine Art. [Read more...]