Thursday, May 24, 2012

I Do Not Apologize

I do not apologize for myself nor my fears / I do not apologize for any statement.... no I do not apologize for being me nor any part of me --Bob Dylan

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Just Sayin'

 You should have kissed me / You should have pushed me up against the wall / You should have kissed me / I was right on the edge and ready to fall

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Trojan War Illustration

This is my contribution to Mackenzie's homework assignment. I know. I know. It should be hanging in a gallery somewhere.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Ask Questions

Stumbled upon this tonight, and it seems to go with my thoughts earlier.

"Brothers and Sisters, as good as our previous experience may be, if we stop asking questions, stop thinking, stop pondering, we can thwart the revelations of the spirit. Remember, it was the questions young Joseph asked that opened the door for the restoration of all things. We can block the growth and knowledge our Heavenly Father intends for us. How often has the Holy Spirit tried to tell us something we needed to know, but couldn’t get past the massive, iron gate of what we thought we already knew." ~Dieter F. Uchtdorf, First Presidency, February 2012

The Supposed Imperious Curse

There's a debate going on one of my relative's walls right now that I haven't really engaged in, even though it has evoked some pretty strong feelings on my side. (Thank goodness I have this blog to vent to!) It's over a pretty relevant, emotional topic but the strong feelings have nothing to do with the actual topic that is being debated. I'm more upset  with the side comments coming from now ex-members of the church. Comments like this:
When we were active in the LDS church, I would say a lot of...things, because I was told what to think/feel. Now, I know better than to think or believe something just because I'm told to.
...for all the years when I was told how to think/feel/believe in regards to [insert topic here]...
I remember being in elementary school and having to tell my friends that I wouldn't be participating in such and such activity on Sunday, or that I didn't swear, or didn't date, or drink coffee, or whatever the thing was that I wasn't doing, and them asking, "You're not allowed to do that?"

It didn't take me long to figure out that I needed them to know that everything that I have done or not done in the name of the church, was MY CHOICE. One friend finally grasped this concept and started saying that drinking, smoking, etc. was "frowned upon" but she stopped making the mistake of saying that I wasn't "allowed" to do these things. I have my own agency. I can do whatever I want. I can think and feel however I want. Yes. There are consequences to every choice you make. And there might be some consequences to those thoughts and feelings, but that is the natural way of things.

How can you be a member of an organization for 40+ years and be so confused? We teach agency and accountability in the church. Everything we do is because we are trying to be more like our Savior and follow His teachings. We have been given guidelines and commandments to follow. We have prophets to lead and direct the church; leaders who happen to be men (and women) who have their own opinions and ideas about things, and just happen to be recorded nearly every time they open their mouths. If they say something that we don't like, we can go to the Lord in prayer and figure out if it is something that we need to pay attention to, or if it is something that might just be their honest opinion (prejudices and all). You can't tell me that you never let something slip out of your mouth that isn't the most PC or is laced with prejudice or judgment. What if somebody was walking around reporting every single thing that came out of your mouth? Do you think everyone would be OK with what you had to say?

You are not a mindless drone. You are not a programmable robot.

I have never, never been told to think or believe a certain thing about a certain thing that I didn't feel I had the option to weigh what I was being told and figure out whether or not it was true.

Everything I have done in my life is because I chose to do it. Everything I do now, is because I choose for myself to do it.

I have grown up in the church, and throughout my 26 years in it, I have modified and changed some of my views and beliefs as I developed a relationship with God. Just like any relationship, it has changed and modified over the years.

If you are blindly following something because you think you are supposed to, that isn't the fault of the institution that is working to provide the best instruction they can; that's your fault. God doesn't expect you to do anything without asking Him. He just wants you to follow Him and do your best to be like Him.

I just want to emphasize, the church does not tell you how to think or feel about any certain topic. We do not live under the imperious curse.

If you feel that way, then you need to do a little soul searching and figure out what you think and feel for yourself. The church can only provide the groundwork and environment: the doctrine, the scriptures, the study materials, the gift of the Holy Ghost, the peace of the temple, the opinions of the leaders. What you think and feel is yours alone. If it is contrary to doctrine, then you find a way to reconcile make the choice of what that means for your life. No one else can.


I've been wanting to blog about my thoughts regarding North Carolina's new amendment to their constitution which states, “marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State”- meaning that civil unions and potentially other types of domestic partnerships will no longer be legally recognized.

I've been wanting to blog about it, but I haven't exactly been able to find the right words. I've always been on the side of "call it anything but marriage". I don't believe that rights should be withheld from members of society. You can't dictate who receives certain privileges and who doesn't when it comes to basic rights. On the other hand, I do believe that God has established the family unit as a sacred place to raise his children. Of course, the family comes in all shapes and sizes, already. Besides death and divorce, adoption, and other situations have changed the modern family to include all types of situations. The nuclear family is no longer comprised of a mom, a dad, and 2.5 children.

I don't know what the answer is. I have gay friends that will make great parents. I don't think that in a committed relationship, a person should be kept out of the waiting room because he isn't "family", or that one half a couple, who knows the other person better than anybody else, shouldn't be allowed to execute a will. Gay couples should be able to live where they want. They should be treated with love and respect deserving to all children of our Heavenly Father. 

But I also stand by the fact that the family is a sacred institution established by God, where with each member holds a special role to be fulfilled.

So I've been thinking a lot about this, and not knowing what to say or how to say it. The only thing I'm not confused about, is that regardless of sexual preference, God loves His children -- nothing can change that.

The thing that has finally got me to sit down and type this up is the Sunday School lesson taught today. We were reading from Mosiah 9. Of course I've read this story before; our teacher, however, put it in to a new perspective for me that I had never thought of before.

The Book of Mormon largely talks about two groups: the Nephites and the Lamanites. Throughout their history, each group of people goes through periods of righteousness and wickedness, just like the Israelites in the Old Testament. The story of Zeniff takes place about 400 years after Nephi and his family have come to the new world from Jerusalem and broke off into the two groups. For four centuries, each group of people have lived in hatred towards one another. In Chapter 10 of Mosiah, there are some six verses (12-17) that explain why, but it can be summed up, "And thus they have taught their children that they should hate them, and that they should murder them, and that they should rob and plunder them, and do all they could to destroy them: therefore they have an eternal hatred towards the children of Nephi." (v. 17)

As I mentioned before, this was a mutual dislike and distrust. Just as the Lamanites taught their children to hate the children of Nephi, I'm sure the Nephites taught their children the same. 

The two groups separated because the brothers of Nephi, Laman and Lemuel, were trying to kill him. So Nephi and his followers packed up and left the land they had settled. Zeniff and his group decided that the Nephites deserved that land back. He packed up and headed towards where the Lamanites were, with the intention of spying on their forces and as he says, "that our army might come upon them and destroy them - " but he goes on to say, "but when I saw that which was good among them I was desirous that they should not be destroyed." (Mosiah 9:1)

Meaning, he went about spying on the Lamanites and saw that perhaps they weren't as bad as he had been taught all his life. They had families that they loved and cherished. They lived probably similarly to the way he did. 

Zeniff fights among the army he has brought to destroy the Lamanites and prevails against those that want to completely annihilate the Lamanites. And then he says, "And yet, I being over-zealous to inherit the land of our fathers, collected as many as were desirous to go up to possess the land..."

Zeniff and his group go into the city and unto the king, and he gives them a city for them to live in. They work hard, building buildings, repairing walls, planting crops, and become prosperous. But they are surrounded by Lamanites, who begin to make problems with them. They are overpowered, and outnumbered. They are heavily taxed.

In the end, the Lamanite king is wily. The Lamanites at this point were a lazy, idolatrous people and they really benefited from the industry of Zeniff and his people. Because of Zeniff's over-zealousness, he finds himself in a terrible position, surrounded on all sides by his enemy. If he had stepped back to realize what the cost of living on the land of his fathers was, he might have avoided the bondage he found himself in.

You may be wondering how the two are related? Or maybe you see the connection that I arrived at. Our teacher asked us what some of the things are in our lives that we can be over-zealous about. We talked about the "eternal hatred" that had become a tradition in the communities of the Lamanites -- and the Nephites. 

We see this tradition of hatred throughout history: Jews throughout the centuries have been persecuted and mistreated; African Americans in America; the different groups in the Middle East; and gays. 

I find it hard to believe that a member of the Church, or a general believer of Jesus Christ could ever sit their child down and teach them to hate someone because they are of a different race, religion, or have made different choices in their life. Hate is such a powerful emotion that evokes all kinds of negative feelings. Hate is a fuel to a fire that should never burn in one that possesses the knowledge of our Savior. And yet, for centuries, there are those that feel they are "fighting the good fight" and trying to staunch wickedness by speaking against it. Those that feel they know what is unnatural and against God and will do anything and everything in order to prove they are on the other side. 

I think we see images like the one above, and wonder how it could have ever been acceptable to segregate two people because of their race. How, as a nation, could we treat people so brutally, so unkindly, and so unfairly (to say the least) because the color of their skin was different?

And now there are people out there who stand on the street corner with signs that says that God hates gays. (I was going to post a picture, but honestly, it makes me sick and I don't want it on my blog.)

I'm here to tell you, God does not hate any of His children.

We need to remember that we are taught about the divine nature of our fellow brothers and sisters on this earth. The Savior is never going to thank you for standing on a street corner shouting that He hates any of his sons and daughters. If you find someone teaching this or supporting this tradition of hate, then you must know that it is not from God; it is simply someone being over-zealous about their convictions on what they think God believes.

Zeniff and his people found themselves in hardships and bondage that they could not get out of on their own. They had to rely on God for the strength to overcome their burdens. They managed to drive the Lamanites out for a while, but eventually, Zeniff's son, King Noah, became one of the wickedest kings who led his people to destruction and killed a prophet of God. Over-zealousness doesn't do us any good. We should stand firm and steadfast in our faith and testimony of Jesus Christ, but we should be sensitive to the Spirit in directing us on just how firm and zealous we should be. 

I am not opposed to states reaffirming in their constitution that marriage is between one man and one woman. (Though, part of me believes that the state, the government, should have nothing to say regarding marriage at all. Since marriage is a sacred institution designed by God, it should be kept to the churches and religious institutions. Let the government define what is a domestic partnership and attach benefits and perks to committed couples of all races and sexual orientations equally.) The fact that North Carolina abolished all other types of domestic partnerships is disturbing in what that means for committed couples who cannot be married. There is talk about the repercussions that may result when it comes to domestic abuse cases, and other negative effects of dissolving all these non-marriages throughout the state. While I support the general idea of this action, I feel that it reeks of over-zealousness which will eventually do more harm than good.

“Jesus Said Love Everyone,” Children’s Songbook of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 61
Jesus said love ev’ryone;
Treat them kindly, too.
When your heart is filled with love,
Others will love you.

Words and music: Moiselle Renstrom, 1889–1956

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Magic Elbow Touch

Speaking of...

In Sunday's Dating, Marriage and Family class, we were talking about Elder Oaks' Dating Versus Hanging Out from 2006. I was (am) a pretty big fan of this talk, but I was not a fan of the way the lesson turned. Unfortunately for me, I was at church by myself and had to make all my snarky comments to the guys behind me or to myself.

Elder Oaks gives a list of why the hanging out "trend" has increased while dating has decreased. In class, we started reading then got to this:
The leveling effect of the women’s movement has contributed to discourage dating. As women’s options have increased and some women have become more aggressive, some men have become reluctant to take traditional male initiatives...
While I stand firm in favor of traditional dating roles, and dislike very much asking guys out on dates (read about that here), I couldn't help but be a little affronted with the way my class spun this. Within seconds, the girls were being told that in order to not be aggressive, we should sit back and patiently wait for the guys to rise to the occasion, and ask us out. If we wanted them to ask us out, then we needed to show that we are interested by flirting and by touching their elbow.

(The touching of the elbow has been popular advice since I arrived at BYU in 2004. I've heard it on numerous occasions. I might have even employed the tactic out of general naivety. But now I'm older and wiser, and I'm calling bull on this beloved method of flirting.)

By listening to the comments, if I didn't know any better, I would have learned that girls are supposed to be coy, conniving, and stealthy in trying to catch a man, but under no circumstances are we allowed to be direct or honest in case that could be misinterpreted into being aggressive. Our teacher talked about how she chased her husband until he caught her. Instead of asking him out, she contrived a way so that she was left at a ward activity with no way to get home, unless he offered to give her a ride. He did. It worked out. They are happily married. 

But if guys are such blockheads, and incapable of picking up subtle hints (as they were telling us) then what is plainer than a girl asking a guy out. If she likes him and wants to get to know him.... why can't she ask him out? Why are we encouraging these strange games?

And if touching the elbow is the universal sign for "I LIKE YOU!" then, why can't we just say it? 

Instead of elbow touching, I'm just going to graduate to more risque moves such as knee touching! If that doesn't get my point across, I don't know what will.

The Sun's Out But...

Has anybody read John Bytheway's What I Wish I'd known When I Was Single: How to do Life as a Young Adult? I listened to the audio version in a car ride home from a trip to Las Vegas with a bunch of single girls (who, coincidentally, are all married now) circa 2007-2008. I was a young adult then. Now I'm a *gulp* mid-single.

I remember it being good: the talk. Not necessarily my young adulthood. (Although, that wasn't really bad in any way, either). John Bytheway is funny, and a good speaker, and he makes some really good points about life, and the church, and things like that. I don't remember everything, but there was one segment where he talked about singles, and how we get stuck to where all we do is think about being single. All we talk about it being single. Everything is about our singlehood.

"The sun's out, but I'm still single."
"I like your haircut, and I'm still single."

Somehow conversations always turn to back to our solitary state. It shouldn't be like that, but it is. And I've noticed that in my own life, the "woe is me for being single" attitude and conversation has been coming up more and more - usually by me - and I can't seem to stop myself! I'm annoyed by it; I can't imagine how my married friends and family feel...though I'm sure they are equally sick of it. But like new moms who talk of nothing but their little tots, and how old people talk about their failing bodies, I can't seem to find anything else more interesting then how alone I am.

Every conversation is dominated by how to catch a certain guy. Or why other guys don't give me the time of day. Or why I attract the ones - the few - that I do. Often, I'm looking for confirmation that I'm a catch. That I deserve a certain caliber of guy, or that I'm sexy enough or smart enough... That I'm not too old. That it isn't hopeless.

Other times, I'm just looking for people to get mad at. For those of you who got married before you turned 24 and have a great husband, or those that might still be single but are dating all the time, or anyone else I deem dis-credible, un-empathetic, or generally silly, I apologize. You're in a losing battle.

Every time I catch myself turning the conversation back to my lack of a +1, I cringe and say to myself something along those lines, "The sun's out, but..."

It doesn't stop me from talking it all out, but, it does remind me how obnoxious it is.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Those Questions

1. Post these rules.
3. Answer the questions provided by the one who tagged you.
4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag.
5. Tag people.

Carla tagged me, so I'm answering:

1. If you could go back to school and major in something different what would it be?

  • I think I would like to go back and do graphic design like I intended. Or maybe a degree in English.

2. What is your go to outfit when you want to look good, and you're in a hurry?
  • My skinny jeans and stripey shirt with a red belt. And thigh-high boots if I'm really feeling it.
  • Or, it might be my new dress:

3. If you could only watch one tv show over and over, what show would you pick?

  • Parks & Recreation
4. What's your favorite book, or the first that came to mind?

  • Anything by Georgette Heyer... I could never choose a favorite book.
5. If your life had a theme song what would it be?

  • Meet Virginia -- I don't know. That's just the first song that popped in to my head, but it seems to fit on a fairly regular basis.
6. Who is someone you miss having in your life (from moving away, passing away, just busy whatever)?

  • I miss having my mom close by me. I miss Becca like I'd miss my left hand. And I miss my old friend Colin.
7. Would you rather be tired for the rest of your life or hungry?

  • Tired, because I'm already used to it. (And do I honestly look like someone who likes to go hungry?)
8. Who is someone you admire and would like to emulate?

  • Ah.... I don't have a clue. Maybe my Uncle Allen. His unwavering faith, devotion to his family, cool insight, and general hilariousness are all definitely something to aspire to. I want to parent my children the way he does. I want to have the same understanding of the gospel and the hunger for knowledge that he does. I should be a harder worker like he is. 
9. What is your favorite game?

  • It depends on who I'm playing with. I love playing Hand & Foot. Or Bananagrams. Or Pounce. 
10. If you had to leave your home forever and could only take a few "valuables" what would you take?

  • My Kindle, a family picture, my camera.... and that's about it. 
11. What grocery item do you regularly splurge on?

  • I can't remember the last time I went grocery shopping.

I don't know who to tag (Chuck, you're definitely one, Aubrey, Becca, Courtney, Kira, Larissa, Melissa, William...), so anyone who wants to answer my questions:
  1. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?
  2. What one in-vogue style would you get rid of, if you could?
  3. What song describes your love life at the moment?
  4. How many books (physical copies) do you own?
  5. How old were you when you had your first kiss?
  6. Peanut butter and jelly or grilled cheese?
  7. What do you daydream about?
  8. Within your dating life, what's one dating faux pas you made?
  9. Is there a place that you go to quite often, but seem to get lost getting there every time? (Maybe that's just me.)
  10. Where was your first job?
  11. Who was your out-of-your-league, not-going-to-happen, crush? (Assuming you had at least one, if it's not current, and you don't want to give it away.)

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