Friday, October 16, 2015

Liam...I'll Listen

I woke up to my alarm. I peered over to Eric, and the sound hadn't woken him up, yet. As I reached for my phone to turn the alarm off, I immediately opened Facebook; it's a terrible habit.

As I scrolled, I noticed friends were discussing their losses; infants who had passed on from this life. I, of course, thought of my tender little brother, Liam on this day of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance. 

Liam is a true example of a valiant spirit. Anyone could feel it by simply holding him close and looking into his ocean blue eyes. 

My youngest brother passed on from this life 16 years ago. Wasn't it just yesterday, the summer of 1999, that we excitedly welcomed him home? 

But, alas, life swiftly passes without a notice if you allow it.

To remember him, I let my memories flow into a short poem.

I'll Listen

Please, don't leave. Stay.
Take the golden leaves back
from where they now hang.
Please, don't go. Remain.
Tarry a little longer to set
eyes on the spring light.

Thank you, my friend.
Every moment and second
I logged away in my heart.
Thank you, my brother.
Celestial bonds carry the
strength of a thousand lives.

Please, be happy. Always.
I'll listen closely for your
warming embrace.
Please, be near. Forever.
Summer will never be the same
Since the day you first came. 

I love you, Liam.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Joy Outside of the Kitchen

October 1 marks three years since I’ve been off the dating market.
I have a single sister – so I’ve had some insight into the ugly transformation of the Mormon dating culture over the last three years. I’m grateful every day that I’ve found a man who supports me in every dream and encourages me to be stronger than I thought I could be.
The article, “What Two Religions Tell us About Dating Culture” appeared in Time Magazine this week. The author, Jon Birger, is writing a book and researched the Mormon dating culture in Utah. I’m sure most devout LDS people would cringe at a negative outlook given in the media.
They shouldn’t.
It was the most accurate description of the heartache that single LDS women experience. So for the sake of strong women like my sister I, too, ring the alarm. This excerpt eloquently describes the BYU dating scene:
Single BYU men are keenly aware of the lopsided numbers, said Wheelwright, who is a leader of Ordain Women, a feminist organization seeking the appointment of women to the LDS priesthood. “In the dating market, the men have all the power,” Wheelwright said. “Men have all these options, and the women spend hours getting ready for dates because their eternal salvation and exultation depends on marrying a righteous, priesthood-holding man.”
When young women teacher asks 16-18 year old women how they can prepare to be a strong, righteous mother and they answer “to learn how to cook" it causes one to think. Why is this their first answer after six years of being a program to uplift and strengthen women of the church? That singular role of the female is demeaning and tells young women that they aren’t capable of changing the world. The LDS Church doctrine teaches that the biggest impact a women can have is in the four walls of her home. But what about the women who don't marry until later or who are unable to have children?  Or the single mothers or the women who need to provide for their family out of necessity?

With the recent announcement of women being appointed on the leadership councils its clear that the LDS Church values women in leadership capacities.
Now, I don’t agree with the mission of Ordain Women and I truly believe that women do have eternal roles to be mothers and nurture. But when did being kind and feminine exclude the responsibility to instill in women leadership, educational, and professional aspirations?
I believe that the gospel and doctrine taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the surest way to find peace, happiness, and eternal life. I know that.
So where is the disconnect in the third hour Young Women lessons? What is culture vs. what is church doctrine? And are we unwilling to listen to the cry of single LDS women merely due to a cultural stigma?
A cultural shift must occur so that women, who out number single LDS men by 3:2, can be prepared to be a contributing member to society and find joy outside of the kitchen.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

BYU Didn't Just Punch Memphis: An open letter to Cosmo

Dear Cosmo,

You probably wouldn't know me. I was one of 32,980 students who were enrolled at Brigham Young University in 2011. But, my dream to go to BYU didn't start with a football game, a visit to campus in Provo, Utah or even stories from my BYU alum mother.

No, it started with a sweater.

This sweater was circa 1982 –  the year my mom graduated from BYU. As I ran my hand over those peeling letters as a child, I knew that this was a good school. Why? I couldn't say exactly, but I knew.

Let's flash forward to my senior year at Fauquier High School in Warrenton, Virginia. I didn't talk much there to my peers. It was a new school, new culture, and new place. But, I did have one anchor that got me through those days that sweater.

People would approach me and ask why I wore a Brigham Young sweater. I proudly said because that was the university of my choice. I would go there some day. You see, even though I wasn't a student of the Y yet, I was a proud ambassador.

What happened at the end of the Miami Beach Bowl was disappointing at the least. But, the issue isn't whether BYU threw the first punch or if Memphis did - no it runs much deeper than that.

Just as those three letters that were peeling from my 32-year-old sweater represented deeply-held values –  so does this team.

Being a great football player or even following the Honor Code isn't enough to be a representative of the school I believed in as a child.

Losing is never an excuse to throw away your integrity. In fact, a real ambassador thrives off of taunting and unjust situations. A leader doesn't react - they respect.

Cosmo you've always been an icon of the University that I grew up loving and being proud to be a part of and I thank you for that.

Some may want to fold their BYU shirts and put them away in an old box until next season but I'll continue to wear mine. Not because of the football or basketball teams but because of the school I once believed in.

Stay warm. I heard we are supposed to get a white Christmas in Provo.

Yours Truly,

A BYU Alum

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Raw of it

As I was sitting on the couch gasps of awe and astonishment were escaping my mouth.

My husband, who was sitting across the room, laughed but I figured it was because of something he read on his phone.

I gasped again at what I read. Why did she think she could save puppies in a desert and then sell them for $200. That's not rescuing puppies, that's exploitation.

My husband laughed again.

Apparently, I get  a little too caught up in my Facebook feed. By "caught up" I mean emotionally invested. My husband replayed a video of me commenting on my Facebook feed and it was eye opening.

In fact, you're probably reading this blog because you saw it on Facebook.

Don't feel awkward. I'm glad you came by to read. So, welcome.

Do you live in reality? I mean REALity? Have you asked yourself that question? Something I've learned about myself is that I get emotionally invested in what I read.

If you were to ask people why they binge watch a show on Netflix or stay up all night reading that one novel they would probably say because "they were caught up in the story."

Where do you draw the line? Yes, that big, red line between entertainment and living a life that is grounded in what is in front of you.

Did you notice how that stranger opened your door today? Or, how your friend gave you a phone call (and even left a message! gasp*) Did you see the way your significant other smiled at you when you half tripped over something on the floor?

It's so easy to dissect yourself and then compare to an image or statement that someone read, reread, edited and then posted. In a recent study, it was found that loneliness has more than doubled since 1980. In another study, the amount of time spent on Facebook directly correlated with a person's happiness throughout the day.

Reality is raw. Life is imperfect. Relationships are genuine.

**the picture of the puppy is mine and not the ones who were rescued in the desert. He's just too cute not to post.**

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Like a Well Hidden Leech

Everyone has that band - the one band that they have no shame in blasting while driving with the windows down on a summer afternoon. 

For me that one band is Something Corporate. Some of you may know the lead singer as Jack's Mannequin. I remember listening to this band on my Sony MP3 player (before iPods) as early as 2002. One song came to me today ...Good News

They chorus goes:

I want to read good news 
I want to be innocent again 
I want to read good news 
but nothing good is happening 

Do you ever feel like this? The news is filled with murders, dirty politicians, cheating spouses, and dishonest businessmen. Our society feeds off of the demise of other human beings like a well hidden leech behind our computer, phone, and TV screen. And so, those stories of mass murders and stolen property continue to be highlighted by news outlets and then read by millions. 

I don't think many of us realize the amount of time we spend on our phones scanning the negative headlines aimlessly. We scroll through Facebook reading the complaints of "friends." And all that time, we just sit there as a leech, not giving much thought to every word and idea that is filling our minds. 

President Gordon B. Hinckley gave a talk at Brigham Young University in 1974 where he urged people to start seeing the positive despite the "criticism, fault-finding, evil speaking" spirit of our day. He suggests that we "stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight." This may be my favorite quote of all time: 

"What I am suggesting and asking is that we turn from the negativism that so permeates our society and look for the remarkable good in the land and times in which we live, that we speak of one another’s virtues more than we speak of one another’s faults, that optimism replace pessimism, that our faith exceed our fears."

You can read the full talk here

So next time you are scanning the Facebook feed or reading about the Hollywood gossip picture yourself as a leech and realize that there is Good News in the world. You just have to look for it.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Lesson About a Magical Word


It's a magical word and will solve all of your problems (or, at least that's what we are told).  Yet, the magic only works when EVERYONE is willing to follow the right leader, share the same vision, respect each team player, and be willing to alter the process according to unforeseen circumstances and needs.

The song in Peter Pan "Following the Leader" is a perfect example of what can go wrong when processes are in place with no shared vision end in sight.

Meet boy in pajamas with Abe Lincoln Hat. He is the clear leader in this segment of Peter Pan. But, at 30 seconds in this video you will see what happens when one person takes one wrong step.

Poor Bear Boy. He slips and is walked right over with no thought from any of the other children. Why? Because the leader is caught up in his perceived process of getting to the goal and the team is unaware of everyone's role and value in the process.

In simple terms: CHAOS.

So how does a perfectly good desire of a peaceful process get slightly off track so quickly?

1. A lack of complete understanding for the overall purpose. Passion is one thing and a deep knowledge and commitment is another. I would consider myself a passionate person, but when I have chased a dream with a process in place with a lack of knowledge the process fails me every time.

2. Little or no short-term goals placed along a timeline. You know those really long road trips where you get so bored tumbleweed starts to actually look interesting? Well, those road trips are a lot like processes. There's a destination and a perceived set of directions (or process). "Are we there yet?" is the perfect example of a child not being given short-term goals or markers within the larger picture. In order to achieve big goals we need to find AND recognize our smaller goals and accomplishments.

3. No respect for the other individuals involved. Whether it's on a committee for a volunteer organization or it's a church or work group - each individual is there for some reason or another. Many a late night team group projects at BYU taught me that you need to show people you depend and trust them. The one girl who took over the whole project because she is OCD does not help the group or allow a process to guide the outcome. Respect the people who are involved in the process and let them know you depend on them and consider them a valuable team member.

It doesn't matter what the agreed process is if there is a lack of respect, a lack of purpose, and no short-term markers. History has shown that the "industry standard" can and does change with innovative leaders and team players. Don't let the process make your outcome stale.

When creativity is harnessed within the guidelines of a working process, contributions are given to society that make the world a better place. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

BIG NEWS! I don't want the Priesthood

This is what I do know. 

  • I am a woman with an eternal calling that is woven in my divine nature
  • I am not a victim of the LDS Church
  • My calling as a woman is revered by my Father in Heaven
  • I do not want to be ordained of the Priesthood
  • I am respected within the Church and if I ever feel that I am not by men who have the Priesthood, it is because someone has acted in contrary to their priesthood duties 
  • I do not need the Priesthood to be a righteous contributor to my family, church and society
Threatening is not of God and ultimatums are never made within the confines of the doctrine of charity. President Thomas S. Monson is the prophet and will not lead the members of the Church of Jesus Christ astray. 

With these three eternal truths, I know that Ordain Women are not acting in accordance with God's eternal doctrine.

In their request to the Church they ask for 250 tickets to the General Priesthood Session. My rebuttal? Attend the Church -wide meeting that was specifically designed to meet your unique needs as a woman. The General Women's Meeting (new this year is that it is now twice a year, just as the general priesthood meeting) on March 29 will feature messages from the First Presidency and the Relief Society.

I don't know about you - but I actually like being a woman because I know that I am respected and loved by God. In fact, I believe that women have an extremely high and sacred calling. A past President of The Church of Jesus Christ said that women hold the "highest place of honor in human life." The below quote is the fundamental message of a talk given by James E. Faust in April 2000. 

"Many years ago, during the time of President Heber J. Grant, the First Presidency wrote: “The true spirit of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gives to woman the highest place of honor in human life. To maintain and to merit this high dignity she must possess those virtues which have always, and which will ever, demand the respect and love of mankind … [because] ‘a beautiful and chaste woman is the perfect workmanship of God.’” 

In this talk by President Faust, he asks if we, as women, truly understand our worth and contribution to the world? I would say that no, those followers of Ordain Women do not understand their worth as a woman. 

In fact, I believe they are hurting the cause of womanhood around the world - both inside and outside of the LDS Church. 

If we want to change the way the world thinks about womanhood then we must step forward with an action of faith and with an unwavering knowledge of our divine worth. By saying that I am lacking authority because I have not been ordained of the Priesthood is offensive to me. And, in my opinion, it weakens the beautiful gift of femininity and beauty that women inherently have. 

I will not join the so-called movement of Ordain Women because I believe in the divine nature of womanhood. My voice is heard by God just as much as a man who holds the Priesthood. My thoughts and opinions are held just as high in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as they are of a man who holds the priesthood. And, if they are not, then it is by wrongdoing and goes contrary to God's doctrine. 

I will wear a dress to church because I think they are pretty! I embrace my feminism because I believe it is a gift of God - it is not a sign of weakness.

And big news - I don't want to attend the Priesthood Session of General Conference because I don't need to in order to know that I am an honored, cherished, beautiful, respected woman of God.