But decided to move it here since it ended up being so long. Facebook can be such a hostel place sometimes. It is so hard to sincerely share opinions and ideas when we are all hiding behind our computer screens where we feel safe and willing to take risks that we often regret. There are so many hot topics right now, and everyone is weighing in because we all feel safe. Most of the on-line arguments I see are counter productive and mean spirited. They are emotionally triggered and that is the place where people are coming from. People are angry. People are hurt. People are protective. But no one, in my opinion, ever wins an online argument. And I have watched quite a few over the last few days. I see a lot of pride on both sides. Everyone feels that they are right. Formed opinions are going to stay that way. We are all just trying harder to prove what we already know. At the same time, these types of things have helped all of us to be more aware and to form ideas and opinions that become more concrete the more we talk or write about them. I believe Jesus Christ is the head of the church. I believe the prophet speaks for him. I also believe Jesus Christ alone will judge everyone when the time comes. I do not believe the Ordain Women Movement is sanctioned by God. I choose to follow the prophet. I think Kate Kelly's actions are based on pride and disillusionment. That being said, I feel for them that so many in their movement have been hurt and disregarded by idiots and imperfect people who have made mistakes. But I see them as a bunch of angry women who just got mad instead of trying to do what they are asking others to do. Understand. Because in my opinion they really don't. And mormon leaders are not "afraid". It is either the Church of Jesus Christ or it is not. And we cannot demand or appoint ourselves to make changes so the gospel suits our lifestyle so we feel better about ourselves. Kate Kelly is not a prophet. She speaks for herself and the people she represents. She has appointed herself. That is not how God works. THat is the only issue I am willing to take on right now because it's all I feel like I need to take on right now. BUt I am not willing to judge anyone personally. ANd I have decided to be kind and empathetic to those who have a different outlook than mine. Because different points of view really have helped me to more perfectly form mine. But lets just all be nice.
At what point do we stop just ignoring what is wrong, and do something about it? I am all about keeping quiet and brushing things off and feeling sad for misguided souls. But at what point is it important to stop being silent and standing up for what I believe is right? This "sisters in silence" vigil outside temple square this Sunday is one of those things where I ask myself, do I just let this go? Do I allow some 100+ women I don't even know to speak for me? Do I allow them to say that I am "cowardly and oppressed" because I am not a part of their movement and they understand something I don't?
I have never in my life felt discriminated against or unequal in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have asked more questions and struggled with issues on a personal level. I have been angry with my ward leaders at times. I have prayed about things personally, asked family, friends and church leaders for help. I have come to terms with many things, and still struggle with others. But I believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored. I want to be like Jesus Christ. I want to do what he would do and what he wants me to do. I question my decisions and ask myself if my points of view are based on pride. Sometimes they are. Sometimes I don't care. Sometimes I may not realize it. But what I do realize is that this Ordain Women movement is built completely on pride. It is all "what about me?"
I do feel bad for some of these women. I do. I feel like the church is run by people who are just trying to do their best. We really are all The Lord has to work with. Leaders make mistakes. People say things they shouldn't. We all stumble and fall and offend and get offended. I have gone to church leaders when I have been angry...at them! I have confided in others and asked for help. I have questioned doctrine in the middle of Gospel Doctrine class. I have asked questions and searched for answers my entire life. I have left in the middle of sacrament meeting because something made me so mad I couldn't stand to be there any longer.
I guess the difference between me and some of these other women, and I am only speculating, is that I have known and do know some truly wonderful men who are true followers of Christ. Starting with my sweet Father who taught me the gospel and sometimes worked 2 and 3 jobs to take care of his family, and still found time to fulfill every church responsibility he had. I am sure the last thing he wanted to do was to go to church and sit on the stand and go to meetings all day on Sunday. I am sure on his only day off he would have much rather have stayed in his pajamas and watched football. In fact, most of his free-time was spent serving others. Finding apartments for missionaries to live in, working at the temple, helping whoever needed it. Struggling through life as best he could, making mistakes, and looking to Christ to make things better and to help him find the strength and the answers he needed when he needed them.
My brother who has always been my best friend. Another guy who works hard to support his family, loves his wife and his children. All 5 of them. He carves out time in his crazy schedule of work, starting up a new business, and family responsibilities to be Bishop of his ward where he has been yelled at, called names, and has done whatever has been asked to do. He is sincerely so much better than I am in so many ways. He loves Jesus Christ and has told me often when I am angry with circumstances that I have had in the church that I, am the problem. He is probably the only one who could tell me that and get away with it. And so far, he has always been right.
I know he is right because he tells me I am the problem, and logically tells me why, and then asks me to think about it and pray about it. He also usually has an applicable parable or scripture off the top of his head that he can relate to me about what ever it is I am struggling with. It usually applies. And yes, he really is that wonderful. Of course he is not perfect. And I am not always wrong. Sometimes he talks me through issues that I have right. But he is always able to remind me that all of us are just doing the best we can. We are all the Lord has to work with.
As a Sister Missionary in Chile I saw first hand how plenty of 19 yr. old boys don't understand what it means to be a Priesthood Holder. I also saw amazing young men who didn't know how to make sense of it all try their best everyday to be a true follower of Christ. I saw them struggle with how to make right decisions. I saw them humbly try to teach others how to find happiness. I saw them serve, be kind to children, be loving and patient and giving to all they met. I asked them for help. Of course there were idiots and jerks. But I was drawn to the good hearted and devoted. They were my listeners, my supporters, my helpers, my protectors. My deepest respect for men in general comes from the examples of these sweet elders who were my friends.
My husband. I have never loved anyone more than I love Jeff. He has helped me in so many ways. He has stood by me, defended me, looked out for me, healed me, loved me in spite of all of my crazy. And I do have a lot of crazy. He has made me strong, brave, successful, happy, hopeful, complete. Life is hard and it is always a struggle. Things just keep coming. It never stops. We continue to stumble forward, not knowing the best way to do the whole parenting thing, marriage thing, life thing. I appreciate him so much for his commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He fulfills his responsibilities in the church not because that is how he wants to spend his free time, or to show off to all his friends how important he is, but because he loves Jesus Christ and will do whatever needs to be done. Whatever is asked of him. He is committed. Just like so many other men I know.
Like my Bishops. All of them. From one of my first Bishops back in Michigan who let his daughter come to my house when other members of my ward were to scared to let their kids come play on my side of town. (I grew up pretty poor just outside of Detroit) To a Bishop who validated a new baptist member who had just been baptized. The new guy started singing a gospel song and wanted us all to sing along in testimony meeting and I was so embarrassed for the guy. But then my amazing Bishop got up and validated the whole thing, and in that moment taught me that testimony meeting is in large part about tolerance and pride. Pride when one may think that what they have to say is more important than what someone else may have to say. We all need to be heard.
I have had sweet and extremely tolerant Bishops when I was a self-centered brat during my college years, when it was really all about me. And my Bishops in recent years who have listened to me complain about my problems, looked to for advice, and tolerated me with divine patience as I questioned them angrily and struggled to come to terms with things that are not right and are beyond my control. I have never felt anything but an outpouring of love and kindness and a willingness to serve and help. This is what Bishops do.
Youth leaders who have helped me with my boys more than they could ever fully understand. Amazing, unselfishness, committed men who care and show genuine concern. They have willingly intervened during some of my families difficult and uncertain times to be a true friend and guardian angel. I love them so much.
I understand the importance of Gender. As a mother of boys exclusively I know that I worry about them just as much as any mother of girls worries about her daughters. I want them to be happy, successful, and confident. I want them to know who they are and what they are capable of. I am defensive and protective of who they are. All of who they are. I want them to be respected and individual. I want them to honor women and eventually be good husbands and fathers and contributing members of the community who serve and help whoever they can. I want them to be followers of Jesus Christ and treat people they way he taught us to treat each other.
I do not pretend to know why men have been called to hold the priesthood. Or why it is entirely reserved for them. I do not pretend to speak for anyone but myself. I do not have technical reasons, or persuasive arguments. All I know is how I feel. And I feel at peace with the whole thing. I feel that through Faith, I too can see miracles. I can talk to my Heavenly Father and he hears me. I have all of the blessings of the Priesthood because of the Priesthood. I feel respected, loved, admired and equal. And I feel tired. Because really, I do too much as it is. The last thing I want to do is go and set up all the chairs on Sunday morning before the meetings start. But I appreciate all the boys who do.
I always thought of myself as a dog person. Dogs are wonderful, sweet, loyal, loving. But they are a lot of work. When we lost our sweet dog Rex, I knew it would be awhile before we got another dog. My life had changed so much, from stay at home mom to full time teacher. No one was ever home to be there for a dog.
So last November, right before Thanksgiving, I left to go grocery shopping, and without even thinking about it, decided to go look at cats at Petsmart. I got there and saw Charlotte. She was so small and sweet in cage there. I hadn't planned on getting a cat that night, in fact, I thought I was allergic to them, which I am. But I didnt care. I wanted her. I left with her.
She turned out to be a real brat. She hates to be held, rarely likes to be petted, but she has caught 3 mice since she has been here. I hate mice. Sometimes I wonder if there is something wrong with her because she is such a brat. She likes to be in the room with us. But always on her own terms. Clint had an allergic reaction to her when we first go her and broke out in hives. He has gotten better. He is allergic to lots of things. But we are keeping the cats and just dealing with the symptoms.
IN the summer, Derek decided he wanted his own cat. I decided I wanted a sweet one. I had a sweet one growing up, and a bratty one. Pretzel was the sweet one. He was my sisters black and white tuxedo cat. We thing Pretzel just went somewhere to die when he was old and toothless. He was such a sweet and patient cat. And a good mouser, protector, and friend. Then we got Tiffanee. She was awful. Long haired, snotty, useless.
I was hoping to find one like Pretzel. Derek and I answered an ad on KSL for kittens at a farm in Riverton. We drove out to the farm and found 7 kittens that were all so different. All of them darling. We saw Wilson asleep under the stairs and Derek picked him up. It was instant love. Wilson was so tired from playing all night. I tried to talk Derek into getting the sweet little striped kitty, that I ended up bringing home too and talking my friend Clare into adopting, because people with small houses really should not have more than 2 cats.
Charlotte did not eat or drink for 3 days after we brought her home. She just hid under things and ran from everyone. Wilson was just the opposite. He ate right away, and even rubbed up against Charlotte right away and won her over quickly. They were almost immediate friends.
Derek named him Wilson right away after a character in a darkish video game because he was black. We loved the name and new it was just right for him right away. And I was impressed with Derek for naming him such a cool name instead of "Midnight" or "Blackie". T.S. Eliot, the famous poet who wrote all about cats says that the cats choose their own names and then let you know. That was most likely the case for Wilson.
He sleeps with Derek, and usually cries a little when Derek leaves. Both the cats meet us at the door when we come home. The like to kiss the first person who comes in the door. If I hold Wilson when I come home, he literally takes all my stress and worry away. I dont' know how he does it, but he does. He loves to be held like a baby. That could be becasue when he was a baby, people held him constantly. He is used to being loved. And he really does love us. Sometimes he just cant get enough love. Sometimes he likes to just be left alone. But he never minds if we pick him up. He never gets upset, or impatient. I just love him so much and he makes me so happy because he is just so sweet. He is playful, and has a cheerful little "meow". Poor Charlotte just has trauma. I know she wants us to love her, but at the same time she doesn't. All shelter kitties probably have trauma. Poor things. But Wilson loves her and has helped her. Clint really loves Charlotte and the 2 of them kind of understand each other. Pets are just so good for kids. And they are good for adults too. I just love my kitty so much. Wilson does so much for all of us. So does Charlotte in her own way. Animals are such amazing things. And I am so glad they are part of our lives.
I still can't believe how much my first graders teach me every day.
I have a few children this year, and every year, that are a bit more difficult to love. All of them are individuals with unique personalities and characteristics. All of them are little, and want approval and acceptance, and love. And I can say that I do honestly adore all of them. Sometimes it is just difficult to remember that every day. Some are easy-going, happy, clean, and learning comes easy. Some are excited, talkative, playful, and creative. Some are shy, nervous, struggle with academics, and lose interest easily. Some are rough around the edges, noisy, impulsive, and emotional. But we are all in this together every year. And it surprises me how much I depend on some of my sweet kids to help all of us get through and thrive as a complete class. We are all in this together.
A few days ago I decided that I really did need help with one of my students. I had tried various techniques to try to reach him. Some would label him as aggressive, impulsive, loud, and difficult. Desperate for some help, I pulled aside a few of my more centered and well-adjusted kids. I asked them individually to be a friend to the this boy. I told them he needs to learn how to be a good friend and a good student and I told them that I needed their help.
Just as I expected, they were eager to do whatever they could. For no other reason then me just asking them. I saw them helping him to follow rules, playing with him at recess. Explaining assignments during independant time, and re-explaining our class policies with kindness to him when he forgot.
One of the sweet girls I asked to help noticed immediately when he was on task during singing time and made sure he got the chance to go up to the front and be the leader right away. I was so impressed with her for looking out for him that I pulled her aside again to thank her and tell her how proud I was of here for being such a good friend. I don't always give rewards, but I gave her a sucker to just really let her know the depth of my appreciation.
Right before lunch while we were I line, I noticed her quietly going up to this same boy, and giving him that sucker.
I try very hard not to cry in front of my students, but the level of compassion was just so strong from this beautiful little girl that I just lost it. The rest of the class started worrying to make sure they were happy tears. I just told them all its because I have the best class in the world and I really do appreciate each one of them so much.
It is just amazing how those sweet little kids can solve problems and come up with their own ideas of how to make the world a better place. Our classroom becomes more beautiful every day. Even though we all continue to make mistakes, and there are still tears sometimes, and tempers flare, we really care about each other. How could we not with such amazing kids. I feel so lucky to be where I am and to do what I do. There are times, especially at the beginning of the year when I feel so overwhelmed and stretched so thin. I have so many goals to complete and things I would like to do but just cant fit in. My home and personal life are scaled back to the bare minimum. I find myself constantly apologizing to my own family for falling short in so many ways. But they believe in what I am doing. And I love them for it. And I love my sweet little class more and more every single day.
Girls Camp was amazing this year. I feel so blessed to know some of the most amazing and beautiful girls.
It was a hard camp. It was really primative, and I had been battling kidney infections all summer that turned into something more serious. I didn't want to deal with it. I wanted to fulfill my responsibilities and get on with life.
I got a shot from my Dr. and promised I would have the CT scan when I got back. I am so glad I did.
We went high up into the mountains, and it was beautiful. Wildflowers were everywhere. It rained a lot, but that helped out with the flies, so it was a blessing in it's own way.
On the second day, we participated in the 3 mile hike. The Stake leaders made it into a treasure hunt where we recieved tokens at different stops that represented each of theYW values. It was very creative and meaningful. The only rules during the hike were to stay on the trails, ask for help if we needed it, and to help each other.
We walked along, enjoying the activity and each other. It was hot and some of the girls were struggling. There were 2 guys on 4-wheelers just off the trail who were offering the girls treats and drinks to get them to step off the path. I didn't really realize what was going on at the time. But I needed help for one of my girls who was not going to make it unless she got something from the tent that we had left at the campsite. I asked the guys if they were mobile, and if they could go to the campsite to get an item from the tent.
As one of the guys was packing up to help me, the other guy shoved a snickers in my hand. At that point I felt like it would be rude not to take it. So I did, and then they handed me a bag of dirt! I asked why I needed it. They told me I would find out soon.
It wasn't long before I figured out that the bag meant I had screwed up. I didn't mean to, and I was mad. I was just thinking of someone else and trying to help them, and now I had this bag of dirt I had to carry around. I felt like people were looking at me and judging me. Whether they actually were or not I don't know, but I felt it. And I didn't want to carry around that stupid bag of dirt.
I did for awhile. I even tried to hide it sometimes. I let people know I was just trying to help! I saw the camp director as we were walking down a trail. A few other girls had bags of dirt too. I told her I had a problem with my dirt.
She smiled and asked me why I was carrying it. I told her the guys told me I had to. She asked me if I wanted to carry it. I said no. Then she said, "well then give it to me."
Was it really that easy?
It was. I asked if the other girls in my group could give her theirs as well. They all gave it away. She took it from us and all we had to do was to give it up.
Never in my life has The Atonement made more sense.
The director then told me that my journey was over, and that I had to leave the girls and come with her. It took me a moment to realize what she meant. I said goodbye to the girls, and walked with the director to the top of the highest peak in the camp. It was beautiful there. I waited with the other leaders for our girls to finish the hike and join us.
I was so happy and excited when I saw my group of girls making their way up the mountain. And I noticed that no one was carrying bags of dirt, and in all honesty, I couldn't remember who had even had them to begin with. It didn't matter.
I gave letters that we, the YW's presidency and I had written to each girl. They found a quite spot among the wildflowers to read all about how wonderful and they are. Then we took a few minutes to look at the view below.
It would be difficult in this place to doubt the love that Jesus Christ has for us all. It would be impossible in this moment to not feel his love.
I was not able to finish the entire week. I ended up in the ER the following day to deal with my neglected health problems. But I am so grateful for my experience there. And I will never forget that moment when I realized I don't have to carry any dirt around with me. All I have to do is give it away.
So I have not done a public post for a long long time. I still blog, but started just keeping things more private, just for myself. I have changed a lot in the past 2 years. And I have realized one thing that I know for certain. Life is hard. But no matter how dark things get, something will come to help us get through it.
I read somewhere that people who can lose themselves in movies do not have a firm grip on reality and are somewhat neurotic. Knowing that everyone falls into some kind of spectrum in some kind of mental illness, I will accept that as I write how I feel about the movie War Horse.
I thought about this movie all throughout the last year. How during a time of War, when people were suffering all kinds of physical, emotional and spiritual anguish, this horse would come into their lives for a short time. He was always there. Even though he didn't lift the burden, he was a beautiful presence in their lives. I also noticed that the people who found this horse were all good, decent people just trying to do what was right. It was a beautiful message, and one I have thought about over and over again.
My life has not turned out the way I have planned. But in some ways, it is even better. I see improvements I need to make in many areas. I need to take better care of myself and my body. I need to be more patient with the sweet children that are in my care everyday.
I have taken to say that I love my job, but hate working. Only because so many things have gone to the wayside at home. I used to feel like I was a really great mom. Now, I am just a tired mom. Entering into the adolescent phase partnered with a full time consuming job has made me feel like I pretty much fall short every single day.
I have watched many other friends struggle with life changing events and feel like I need to be more helpful and supportive to them. But I feel like I am functioning at full capacity, and sometimes I just feel like I want to lock myself in my room and sleep for days at a time. During this past winter, there were several Saturdays I did do just that. Winter has been long, dark and cold. But on days like today, when the sun is out, I work in the yard with Jeff, and plan out an herb garden, my heart feels happy. Summer is coming. It is almost here!