Showing posts with label choices. Show all posts
Showing posts with label choices. Show all posts

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Opportunities, Pros & Cons




            We all make decisions.  Each choice we make has consequences whether good or bad as mentioned in this post


            When we were living in Utah, Jenna had the opportunity of learning Spanish through the dual immersion program.  While some parts of Oregon offer this same program, the particular county we live in doesn’t offer any foreign language until high school.  I really did not wish to pull her out of the program.  She’s no longer learning Spanish at school, but she does have other opportunities here that she did not have in Utah.

            She would not have been enrolled in band while in the sixth grade.  We may not have been able to afford the instrument.  We have the opportunity to do so here. 



            There is only one elective at her school.  We had to do away with crafts in order to keep her in band.  She loves crafts.  She has an opportunity to do crafts at the youth center she attends after school.  In Utah we couldn’t afford the after school activities.  The state of Oregon pays for her after school activity here in Douglas County.  For that, I am very grateful.



            When I post this to my blog, Jenna and her classmates (entire school really) will be at the Memorial Pool for their first-week-of-school celebration.  Can you imagine?  We never did that in Utah.  There was an activity at the end of the year. Certainly not a kick off for Labor Day weekend – which for her starts in less than 20 minutes.  She will then have the next four days off.  So what was the point of starting just four days before?



            There are certainly things that I’ll miss about the opportunities she had in education while we were living in the Granite School District.  I am grateful for the new opportunities that she will have here. 

            It rained yesterday, and though we really do need the rain and it is greatly appreciated, I’m happy that there is enough sunshine for the children to enjoy the pool right now.
            Opportunities.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Choices We Make




     You ever notice that the choices we make not only affect you but those around you as well?  Take my decisions to leave the majority of my family to move to another state for the sake of my health.  And yet I personally have known others who have said, “I’m not going to leave my family.  Even if the doctor says it’s in my best interest, I won’t give up my children, my grand-children . . .” or what have you.  That’s their choice.
 
     Some live long lives and are successful with their health choices.  Others continue to hack out their lungs while babysitting grandchildren while their children are at work and end up dying anyway.
 
     Sometimes it becomes a larger burden for the child (or children) to bury the parent than it would have been if the parent had just moved out of state.  Sometimes it’s easier, realizing the sacrifices that were made by said parent.  Often there are questions with either decision.  Some questions go unanswered or are misunderstood.

     My decision to move has affected Jenna’s education, as she will not be able to continue with in the dual immersion program – not at this time.  I don’t want her to lose what she has been taught and continue with her Spanish.  But foreign language is not even offered until she’s in high school. I hope to be living in a different part of the state by then.

     Our decision to leave Utah so abruptly caused stress for both Tony and Rochelle – who were also facing challenges of imperfect health. Our unorganized chaotic house only added to the stress – I’m sure.

     Mom had a good friend mentioned here and here who had secluded herself from everyone she knew – including her own family.  They all knew that she was sick.  They just didn’t know how sick.  She chose not to tell them because she did not want them to worry.  Though I do understand her choices, I think her decisions made it a lot more difficult on her family members – who knew how opposed Pam was to funerals and thus the family chose not to have one for her.  For me, it seemed symbolic to the end of her life: It felt very empty as if there was no closure. 

         I have learned throughout my life that funerals are for the living – not the deceased. I would actually be a lot more gracious with being honored once I’m deceased as it isn’t something I’m too comfortable with while I am living. I’m not big on hoopla. I didn’t even want a wedding reception. But there were a huge number of people that hoped that I would. And so I had one – for them. It did not take place until after Roland and I had been married for over a month.
    
     Are the choices we make good or bad?  Do we regret our decisions?  I don’t regret moving to Oregon.  I know that I am breathing better.  My oldest son says I definitely look happier. I am for the most part.  I smile a lot more when I go to church.  I laugh at situations that I can’t control.  I don’t worry.

     I took Jenna to the pool today and while I sat outside waiting for her, I cried for the first time since we've been in Oregon.  I was crying about being so far from my family members.  Jeanie’s having a baby shower this week. Jenna wishes we could go.  I did give shower gifts to my two pregnant girls before I left – but it’s not the same.

     I won’t hear my grand-daughter tell me she wants to go jump on the trampoline or see BJ’s smile light up when he sees me.  It makes my whole day.  I miss playing games with Kayla and Bill or the boys.  I miss their asking, “Where’s dad?”  “Where’s Jenna?”

     Two of my boys actually fought over taking Jenna trick-or-treating last year.  Tony was promised that he would get her this year.  There’s a promise broken.  I’m not sending Jenna back to Utah just to go trick-or-treating.  I think she is getting too old for trick-or-treating anyway.  Although it is easier to get away with when going door-to-door with your three-year-old niece or your five-year-old cousin.

     Corey (who actually posted this same subject and similar title to his blog here which I didn't realize until just before I posted) kept himself closeted for years knowing his decision to come out would not only affect him – but each of his family members.  I think he was scared on how we’d react.  He had already had a taste of what he thought was a bad reaction from me – and it was. 

I had behaved poorly – but not because he said he was gay – but because I had figured out that I had stopped caring about him somewhere along the way and it didn’t matter to me whether he was gay or not because I just didn’t care about him anymore.  (see post here) And that’s what is most upsetting – that I had stopped caring. 

   I am so so grateful that we’ve mended the fences that were built between us and that we are supportive of one another and that he is truly happy.  I love him with all my heart.  I love each of my family members.  It does hurt that I am so far away.
 
But I can breathe.

      Perhaps it’s selfish of me to prioritize my health over being with them.  Perhaps it seems selfish that I would rather communicate electronically rather than have my children or grandchildren remember me as hacking all the time and eventually gasping for air until I die.

     I don’t particularly want to die alone – but like Pam, I don’t want my children to worry about a funeral as the expense of them coming to Oregon or shipping my body back to Utah seems quite unnecessary.  Bury me quietly and remember me as having more years because I could breathe.  Because really, what good (or fun) am I if I’m constantly gasping for air.  I don’t want my death to be a relief to them.  I’m sure they wouldn’t (or don’t) miss the sounds.

     I’m grateful that I didn’t have to move here by myself but that I do have Roland and Jenna with me.  And as a member of the Church I automatically have a support group in the current ward (church) that I attend. I hope my decisions will bless those here as well as those that are still in Utah (and Nevada) 

     Whether I had stayed in Utah or come to Oregon, my choices would have affected my family either way.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Where is 28 in 2012?


I remember watching a documentary with my mom in 1991.  It was called Age 7 in America.  At least I think that’s what it was called. 

I don’t know who’s responsible for making it.  It looks like it may have been created by Christopher Quinn patterned after an idea done in Britain?  I don’t even recall which network sponsored the program.  Quinn (who also narrated the film) told us that the plan was to follow a number of children from different backgrounds and upbringings and interview them every seven years.

I remember looking for “Age 14 in America” but not finding it.  I don’t know what prompted me to look it up on YouTube this year – but I did find it.  Age 7, age 14 and age 21 (thank you Orletta Crichlow) and watched Up 21and was really quite impressed.



Years ago, when my mom and I had been watching, there were three girls wearing school uniforms.  As they were being interviewed, the one in the middle (Kate) seemed a bit naïve and perhaps a little slower than the other two.  I remember the three talking about babies and that one did not have to be married in order to have a baby.  Kate’s comment implied that a man would still have to be involved.  When the other two said (in unison) “No, you don’t.”  Mom looked at me and said something along the lines of, “I thought the one in the middle didn’t seem as smart as the other two, but now she sounds smarter.” 

I thought the other two were too young to know about artificial insemination, but perhaps that was what was meant by their comment.  But a man is still involved – just not in the natural sense.

Kate was my favorite among all of the children that were interviewed.  After 24 years I had forgotten how many children had been interviewed as I could only remember five.  The three from upper class New York and the two from the poverty stricken housing project in what sounded like a seedy side of Chicago.

The focus was on 14 different children – some grouped and some individually.  There were five girls and nine boys interviewed. This post is my review.  You may wish to watch this without reading my review to form your own opinions.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCe8a-BwHwc
The background and situation from which you come (or are in) doesn’t define you, but rather your attitude toward how you deal with the given situation.  I find it interesting how some were faced with similar situations took their lives in different directions.

I thought it was interesting, how at 21, Kate said she had watched “7 in America” for the first time when she was eight.  She said she felt ashamed I think of being in her situation when it was obvious that there were others who did not have it so well. 

I hadn’t remembered Luis at all, but was touched by his story. His dad had recently skipped out on them.  Mom was into drugs.  Lewis – at age seven – took upon himself the responsibilities of caring for his younger siblings.  SEVEN!  I can’t even imagine.



I have been so impressed with the choices that Luis made for himself and for his family – always trying to do right by them and sacrificing education and friendships in order to tend to his siblings.  At age 21, Luis was serving in the army.  Grateful for the independence of being away from his family – but still assisting with taking care of them.  He seemed to have such a great attitude despite the challenges that life had dealt.

The other two I remember were Leroy and Kennisha.  They lived in what was known as the Robert Taylor housing project.  It sounded like an area with high crime and poverty.  Leroy had been riding his bike upstairs on the walkway – going back and forth.  The interviewer had asked why he didn’t take it downstairs and explore the outdoors.  His answer was that if he had taken it outside, that someone would just push him off the bike and take it from him. The two had witnessed many crimes with either eyes or ears.  I honestly wondered if they would both be living by age 14.  Happy to see that they are.

Kennisha seemed to have amazing faith as she would pray for things to get better.  At age 7 she was a strong believer in God and that continues.  And life did get better.  By age 7 she had moved to section eight housing.  By 21 an actual house with a lot of family members.  Her goal was to move her daughter to Texas where they will have their own place and Kennisha can actually enjoy some time experiencing solitude.

I highly recommend watching 21.   I’ll end with what I thought were memorable quotes:

“It’s going to get better.”  -  Luis

“Hard working people are overlooked.”  -  Doug

“We control our own destiny as best as we can”   -  Eric

“Predetermined background doesn’t define who I am or how I’ve gotten here.”  - Michael

“There is no emotional diploma.”  -  Alexis

“Everything coming in place.”  -  Kennisha

“Everybody needs love.”  -  Leroy

“Step up to the plate.”  -  Luis

"Things don't always work out like they're suppose to."  -  Kate

“As long as my family love me, I’m okay with that.”  -  Leroy

Monday, January 26, 2015

If you can’t question your religion, Why Are You In It?


         I don’t know if I had met Kelly prior to the being called to serve on the activities committee.  The first activity I remember being involved with was a “food storage/budgeting made-fun activity” Kelly played Betty Barker and I became the emcee who drew the names of contestants and invited them to “come on down”.

         Even then she was struggling with the Church and her family life – desiring to connect the two but feeling torn with her beliefs.  Her husband showed no sign of ever wanting to be involved with the Church or even anybody who belonged to it.  Perhaps Kelly wasn’t even active when they met but gradually came around with a desire for having God and direction in her life – perhaps not necessarily the “Mormon Church”

         That was five years ago.  And she continues to battle with herself and her maintaining a comfortable relationship and self worth which she is not finding in the Church.  I understand.  Perhaps not completely.  But I do understand why she would leave – although she hasn’t withdrawn completely.

         Her husband still gives her no support as far as showing any interest in church or church members.  I didn’t even know what he looked like until the other night when I glanced at him through the window.  He had heard we were coming and made his “get-away” before we were even out of the car.

         Kelly’s last calling had been a counselor in the primary.  Not where she wanted to be, but accepted the calling believing it would keep her on the path to and at that the Church is where she needed to be – until she was asked to create the program for the 2014 “Families are Forever” theme.  That became the straw that broke the camel’s back.  It wasn’t in her heart to create a program that she herself felt discriminated against.

         Actually, I had wondered how the majority felt as many of the primary children are from broken homes, inactive or part member families, many with barriers that seem to prevent the traditional “families are forever” theme. 

         Elenore sat on the stand near the pulpit, to help the children with the lines they might have forgotten. I wondered if the program had been difficult for her as she and her husband had divorced long before I had even met her. She’d gone back to her maiden name rather than identifying herself with her married name.  She has custody of their two children, but he has visitation rights.

         I hadn’t even paid attention to Kelly’s absence as I watched various children get up and recite lines that just didn’t seem to fit in their current living environment.  How many of them believed in the words that they said?  How many struggled through that program?  I did.

         Kelly’s youngest son and Jenna have often played together.  Kelly had told me about sending her son to a water park all summer.  I had been dragging Jenna to Kearns with me last summer.  Perhaps “drag” is not the correct word as she really did enjoy being with her cousins.  But I know she would have loved spending summer at a water park if given the opportunity. 

         I had asked Kelly if Spencer would be returning to the water park this summer and thought I would look into a pass for Jenna.  I thought we had talked just last month, but then she disappeared.

         I was substitute teaching the last three weeks of December.  I think there were five or six names on the role in Jenna’s class, but it was usually just Elenore’s son and Jenna.  Spencer wasn’t there during the three weeks I had taught.  I sent Kelly a message to inquire if she and her family had been out of town for the holidays.  Turns out she is actually attending another church – one that doesn’t push the “Families are Forever” theme.  One that doesn’t make her feel discriminated against.

         I had the same struggles when I was single for so long – not as long as several sisters in the current ward I belong to.  I was married at 39.  There are several sisters in my ward who are much older that have not had opportunity to marry – or perhaps they have and it just didn’t feel right with choice of partner.  I don’t know.  I know that there are several who feel discriminated against when lessons are given on eternal marriage or husband/wives relationships.  It’s hurtful to hear when that very thing doesn’t seem to exist in the earthly future.

         I recently read that divorce is 50/50 but that a marriage needs to be 100/100.  And there are some couples that each give 100% and then there are other couples in which one does all the giving while the other does all the taking.  I can only control what I give, but I cannot control what another might contribute.  Roland contributes 100% - perhaps more.  But not everybody has that.  Not everybody has the support from family members.  Not everybody gives 100%.

         Hannah moved into the ward about a year after we did.  For the longest time I believed that she was a single parent as I never saw her with a spouse.  She was diligent about coming to meetings and activities though it was challenging at times.  It wasn’t known to all that there were struggles, for Hannah wore a smile on her face and pressed on.  One day she announced that there were struggles and coming to church wasn’t easy. Her husband didn’t wish to attend church with her.

         When Asher (her son) got closer to turning eight, he begged his dad to please come back to Church so that he could baptize him.  Thus after eight or nine years of attending Church on her own, Hannah’s husband finally came around.  He is the one who baptized Asher.  Endurance.

         So where is Kelly’s reward when she has seemingly had to endure even longer?  Why are there some whose trials seem to outlast their faith while others seem to be rewarded in just a matter of minutes?  How many of us feel that we have been or are being dealt with unfairly?  For how long must we endure?

         One of my biggest hang-ups in this “pushing family” church is the discrimination that seemingly takes place at the temple.  The sealing ceremony in which only the worthy temple recommends holders can participate.  All loved ones who are not temple recommend holders are allowed to wait in the lobby but cannot witness the special event because they don’t have recommends.  They have been labeled “unworthy” How do you explain that? 

         I was married civilly over three years before I was sealed.  The civil marriage was a lot more personable.  I enjoyed having guests at my wedding that otherwise couldn’t come to see Roland and I exchange vows.  I don’t like to feel excluded because I don’t have a recommend (or didn’t; not when Patrick married.  Not when my cousin married her first husband) and I don’t wish for others to feel that way.

         What does a “Forever Family” mean in my case?  That the boys will go with Roland and their mom?  That Jenna will go with Roland and me?  And what’s to become of Roland’s oldest two girls?  They were born under the covenant?  But do they sense that now?  Do they even know what that means?

         The boys are adults with spouses (soon families) of their own.   How does that work?  Are they always going to reside with us in the hereafter or will they go with their wives’ families?  I don’t think our concept of “Families are forever” will be the same as what we may build up in our minds.  We are required to have faith that it will all work out.  God’s kind and men’s kind are very often not the same.

            Denise shared her testimony after her forty plus years of struggles – though not with the Church.  She had been baptized when she was 19.  The ward bishop had called her into his office to call her as a primary teacher.  But there was a condition that came with accepting the call.  She would have to stop dating her boyfriend.  It wasn’t because even because he wasn’t a member, but apparently the bishop objected to his race.  I don’t know if she saw that as discrimination coming from the Church or just that particular leader.  It wasn’t right that he had told her that.  She left the Church and did not return until over forty years later.

            The elder missionaries showed up on her doorstep shortly after she lost her dad.  She was in a state of depression.  She had answered the door in her pajamas and commented that one elder in particular was dead set about helping her.  She said she needed her dishes done but didn’t have any soap.  The elders dismissed themselves but said they would return.

            When the elders returned, they brought back some dish soap along with a missionary couple.  While the elders did dishes, Denise sat in the other room with the elderly couple and asked about her father.  It was a very good visit and an indication for her to return to the Church in which she had been baptized a member over four decades earlier.

            We all have our trials.  We all have our disappointments.  Endurance is not an easy thing.  For many, it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  For many there is no life.  They have given up home.  Some hang on by a thread searching for a glimmer of hope.  May each of us find the strength needed to endure than we may find peace?  That is my hope. 


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Actually, Location Does Matter – but not Always an Option


I went out to see my mom at the assisted living yesterday.  The last two times I have gone, I’ve taken her out to see Aunt Trudy – who is currently in rehab and in a facility with a name similar to the place where mom is staying, but such radical difference in the two places.

Granted, the facility my aunt is in is not the last place that she will ever call home. It is a rehab center.  But it reminds me of some of the assisted living facilities that Corey and I had looked into but could not afford. I don't know how this rehab bill is going to affect Aunt Trudy – for I know that it will be more pricy than the bills Corey gets for mom.

The center where mom is currently seems understaffed.  And each of the staff members assists with the seating and the feeding and the meds and forms of entertainment.  They start setting up and bringing residents to the table starting at 11:00.  They don’t eat until 12:00.  There is one cook.

At the center where my aunt is (or even Sunrise – the place we would have put mom if money was no option) has staff teams.  I don’t know how many people were in the kitchen.  But there were three people at the table where my aunt had been seated (really fine dining atmosphere by the way – like some posh club or something) and there were three people that served them.  So each resident gets his/her own waiter?

I was asked if I wanted soup.  I was hungry but had brought my own lunch so as not to saddle my aunt’s bill with an extra expense.  I was told there was no charge for the soup.  It was really good soup!  I think they could have charged $5.00 a bowl, it was that delicious.

The residents (temp residents or patients, clients?  What would you call them) have a choice of menu items.  I don’t know how many people are in the kitchen.  I imagine the kitchen is bigger than the entire house where I currently reside (and that is NOT an exaggeration)

The food at mom’s facility? It is okay. Not that I’ve had a lot of it.  Usually there is no place to sit.  They don’t get to choose from menu items.  Eat what is served to them or don’t eat at all.

Aunt Trudy’s bed looks like it is just a single – but her room is huge!  Her bathroom is huge (but it has to facilitate a wheelchair and at least one nurse) I don’t know how often each staff member stops by.  But it’s routine clock work – I don’t guess there’s a single hour when somebody isn’t looking in on her.

Mom’s place – well . . . they have a schedule.  It gets altered a lot.  Things don’t always happen on time.  Sometimes personal items get misplaced (bras in the laundry – all with worn out tags) and sometimes overlooked.

I’m not blaming anyone.  You get what you pay for.  But there’s a lot of love and concern that goes into my mom’s place because they’re so small.  They know not just their residence, but all the family members who come to visit.  I see some smiles and genuine positive emotion with some of those who have worked with my aunt (or at least there in the facility) but I have seen just as many who are “just doing their job” who are there to get a paycheck and be polite – but their priorities don’t always seem to be set on those they serve. 

I could be wrong.  I’ve only been there twice.  Each time I’ve been overwhelmed by the “luxury”.  At mom’s I am underwhelmed for the most part.  Though I do appreciate the devotion of the staff.
  
I had a friend who had done rehab in an assisted living facility or nursing home, rather.  It seemed overcrowded and understaffed and reminded me of a veteran’s ward, actually. I knew of two real people that had been sent there to live for the remainder of their lives – one of whom is younger than I.  She had Huntington’s disease.  And her mom was not in a position to take care of her full time.  Same facility.

But my friend was in good spirits.  It’s certainly not the place she would have chosen for herself, but it was an option through the insurance company – and unlike many that were there, she would be returning to live with her family and would not be there until she died.

Sometimes we find that we just have to settle due to our own lack of control. Because we haven’t been blessed with financial wealth.  Because the economy robbed us of our house and were forced to move to a less expensive area.  Because the government is dipping into your paycheck because they say you owe money even though you were on welfare the last two and a half years.  Because the income you depend on has the name of your deceased spouse on it, it is automatically given to medical and you have no say in it whatsoever.

I love the school Jenna goes to currently.  I have to drive her two miles south each morning and then drive back to pick her up.  She rode the bus in her last four months of kindergarten.  We had moved to a different school boundary – one that caters to those who come from homes with a language barrier or those that are learning challenged or slow.  Jenna wasn’t happy there.  Neither one of us were.

It is such a different situation – entirely – when comparing the two schools.  Teachers at the former school kept everything under lock and key – even while in the classroom.  At her current school, teachers seem to trust students.  They close the doors and turn off the lights and that’s usually good enough for a student not to go in – or if he does, it’s to go through his own desk – never the teachers.

Jenna’s in a portable classroom this year.  I have had to use a pass to return to the main building.  The students at her current school are so polite.  They open doors for adults and stand there until the adult has passed through.  I don’t think that would even cross the minds of those in the other school that she went to.

At the former school, instruction seminars were held for the parents once a month – they would have the opportunity for learning proper hygiene, basic nutrition, things I had learned in junior high.  All of the seminars were done in Spanish and the school would supply English translators for those of us who didn’t speak Spanish (I’d gone to a seminar to meet other parents; I felt like a fish out of water) but the opportunity to mingle felt so limited.  I only went to twice.

At Jenna’s current school, there are very few that don’t speak English.  And there are several bilingual parents, teachers and students that no one should feel out of place.  There probably are a few parents who could use the basics, but no seminars are offered or morning mingles (which I learned was just a name – I did try to associate – but it just didn’t take.  But it helped me understand why Jenna was having such a hard time as she couldn’t seem to communicate either)

I loved the friendly faculty of the former school and didn’t feel threatened by anybody – but there was definitely a different atmosphere from the school Jenna attends today. 

Location.  The former is a boundary thing.  The one today.  Ironically she’s learning Spanish in the dual immersion.  But she has friends there.  She tried but made only one friend at the former – and then that friend moved.

It seems like I heard these words in Sunday morning’s session of conference: “It doesn’t matter where you live; whether it’s a nice neighborhood . . ." somehow I let those words set off my emotions.  There was a fuel burning inside of me that made me explode.  We didn’t choose our neighborhood.  We’re here because we had to settle. But perhaps I took the message out of context.  Perhaps it was my own interpretation made set me off.

 We are still struggling just to make ends meet.  The house across the street must be a section 8 and someone else is helping to fill out the required paperwork in order to get state support (I know they have to have assistance – the woman who resides there isn’t smart enough to do it herself) The police have been called I don’t know how many times because of her undisciplined children.  We certainly had absolutely no say as to whether we wanted them for neighbors or not.

Currently the police department in West Valley is being investigated by the FBI.  Should I be concerned?  I know that values start in the home – I know we can help instill learning in Jenna.  She is happy with her family.  But she shouldn’t be afraid to leave the house because of the idiots across the street.  Location does make a difference.  Sure, attitude does also.  But it’s hard having to be the strong one all the time.  It’s hard being one of 25 who volunteer and show up to see the same ones doing it again and again.  I’m worn out. 

I don’t want to have to settle because my husband’s ex wife is a habitual liar and the government won’t cut us a break.  I’m tired of living from paycheck to paycheck.  I’m tired of having needs that aren’t being fulfilled – forget about the desires.

The facility where mom lives seems to struggle just as my family does.  But they are family.  They are bound.  The facility where Aunt Trudy currently resides may have some caring family members – but I think the closeness that brings people together is lost somehow.  Who really has the greener grass?

We have been blessed with transportation.  And yes, we do have shelter for the time being.  Jenna and I have both been blessed with her current education.  And we’ve been so blessed by Church welfare and friends and family.  I guess there are pros and cons to every situation.

Monday, February 11, 2013

To Be or Not To Be Beyond the Walls


       
This year the Church created a new format for teaching the youth.  Our theme for the month of February is on the Plan of Salvation.  The website and brochure give guidelines and suggestions, but it is up to the instructor of seminary, Young Men’s, Young Women’s or Sunday School to allow him or herself to be guided by the Spirit to come up with meaningful lessons that will make an impact on the youth.  It beats the same outline and manual that we shared with the adults last year (and I suppose every year prior)

Last week I introduced self worth and service as part of the plan and had a tremendous amount of examples – including relating the ideas that have been shared in the video “Man’s Search forHappiness” (Didn't the Church put out a more updated version?)

The lesson itself seemed to go okay but I also seemed to lose my train of thought rather early in the lesson. I ended quite early and asked for a closing prayer.  But as it was so early, I asked the class to remain seated and allowed my overly quiet class to talk about whatever was on their minds.

I’ve been putting more thought and preparation into my lesson for next week – which thus far seems to be taking me in the direction of the three kingdoms – though I haven’t really felt inspiration so much as incomplete thoughts.

I’m not discouraged particularly, but I feel myself delving deeper into places where I don’t necessarily want to be – or would like to share with the class rather.  For example, I have read some opinions given on object lessons discussed in this site  as well as some others. Actually, I have been somewhat intrigued by some of my searches, but it’s not where I want to take the class.

I remember a fireside that had been hyped up with advertisement of going to Hawaii or some other destination.  All the advertisements were geared to our moment of “travel” – only the fireside had been presented to the adults about a month or two before the youth were given the opportunity.

Mom had come home from the adult fireside.  She had enjoyed the presentation and had enthusiastically shared with me that which had taken place.  It sounded (to me) like a really good fireside. And I remember wishing I could have gone – not realizing that I would be at a future date.

When I had gone to the youth fireside one or two months later, I’d forgotten about the fireside mom had shared with me.
First the group was taken to the passageway that is nestled between the chapel and the cultural hall.   The chairs had been set up similar to how they appear in a commercial airline. We had been given plane tickets in small official looking folders. As we boarded the plane, we were given leis as I recall. I don’t recall there having been a specific flight number.  I just recall the destination.  I thought it would result in a luau.  But no . . .

The flight attendant demonstrated safety devises as the pilot made announcements over the intercom.  The flight was underway.  We listened to Hawaiian music.  And then our plane crashed.  It was then that I realized what was in store.  I don’t know if it would have developed a different impression if I hadn’t already known what was going to happen.  But I had already experienced this crashed flight and results through mom.

We were told that everybody aboard had died upon impact and that there were no survivors.  Our guide showed us around taking us from one kingdom to the next explaining why we were there and who the candidates were (are) for each kingdom.

We were taken to two other rooms before entering the chapel to see all of our leaders dressed in white and were told that we had made it to the highest kingdom.  I don’t remember how I felt right then.  But I did walk away from the object lesson almost as impressed as my mom had been.  I thought it well done. Well illustrated.  There were many of us who did.  It hadn’t occurred to me that there were some that had been freaked out by the object lesson or uncomfortable or turned off or other emotions that were quite opposite from the ones I had felt.

I was to attend at least two more similar firesides. Both in the mission field.  The first was after I had been in the field for a month.  I was part of a tripanionship (three sister missionaries serving a one unit) and we portrayed the flight attendance and arranged for participants to learn their parts.

Brother Croft did an outstanding job as the pilot.  Our flight number: 307.  There was no divider between the cultural hall and chapel.  We used the stage as our airplane.  We passed out hand-made tickets in homemade folders and passed out leis (I believe)

Bro. Croft recorded music and provided great sound effects for the crash.  He had also given us eerie sounds to be played while the participants were led passed a dark room representing outer darkness – which not all firesides provided. We were told who would be sent to outer darkness and fortunately nobody in the group qualified.

 A lot of non-Mormons had been invited to the fireside and attended.  Upon seeing the bishop and his family on the stand in the chapel – which represented the highest kingdom – many laughed.  Many said: “No way.”  Too many saw a flawed family and wouldn’t accept the symbolism. 

The last time I attended the fireside was later the following summer.  I had served in the area for only a month and only knew a handful of members. I was with a companion who had a hard time getting along with any of her former companions.  It was actually a tough area for me.

The ads that were created to hype up the fireside were not for a flight to Hawaii.  We would be taking a train to the Orients.  As soon as we were seated, I figured out that the train would crash. But before the train went underway, each table (yes, we were seated at tables that had been set in two rows) we were given board games to play.  And I was actually so wrapped up in the game that I forgot about what was about to take place – until the lights went out and we were pronounced dead.

When we entered the chapel which was supposed to represent the highest kingdom, I started to cry.  I didn’t know many that were on the stage.  I was with a companion I wasn’t getting along with.  None of my family was there.  Just a bunch of strangers.  It did not represent Celestial glory – or if it did, it was not where I wanted to be.


          As I have gone through my research, I have also come across thissite  We made a mistake – we offended someone – apparently lots of someones.  We created an irreverence when we were trying to illustrate something good and wholesome.  That is what we were trying to do?


          People make mistakes.  Members make mistakes.  Doctrines are misinterpreted.  Things get misconceived.  It’s not that we are trying to be deceptive or opinionated.  That’s why it is so important to pray.  We need to learn for ourselves if something is right or if it has been misrepresented – if it’s our own lack of understanding or if it is the instructors . . . God is never wrong.  It is best to ask him than to take word for it.  It is best that we communicate with God and learn for ourselves what he expects of us individually and receive our own personal revelations.

          There had been one more fireside/activity that I remember from college – although not in detail – nor can I find an activity suggestion that is similar.

          Back in 1981-1982, the ratio (at was then Ricks College) was approximately 3 ½ girls to every guy.  The ward and family home evening activities provided more drastic – being about 5-6 girls to every guy.  There were two Relief Societies, but only one priesthood.  The statistics were pretty much the same throughout my life.

          At this activity, each of us were given four yellow tickets (actually, I don’t remember the exact colors nor do I know if they’re symbolic in any way, but that’s not pertinent to how I personally felt by the end of the night)

          We were given a choice of activities in which to choose from.  We could purchase a healthy drink or a more worldly one (of course worldliness at Rick’s college couldn’t have been more powerful than extra sweetened lemonade or perhaps orange soda pop) I would guess to represent the word of wisdom. 
          There was a fortune teller or a scripture booth (I’m just guessing about the scripture booth; I forgot the fortune teller’s equivalent).  There was also a room which represented a chapel for civil marriages or a room which represented temple marriage.  I forget what two situations represented the last choice that we were given.

          I hadn’t connected the dots back then, but I suppose the tickets that each of us were given represented time – and the markers would tell the “angels at the gate” just how we spent that time.

          I couldn’t get a pretend recommend to marry in the pretend temple because of the ratio thing.  I had made two wise choices, but realizing I would not be able to use a yellow ticket for temple marriage, I made a poor choice (knowing full well that it was the wrong choice) and went to the fortune teller – because what the hey.  I wasn’t going to find a partner to get married either civilly or eternally.

          Besides, Lucy was playing the fortune teller.  She had dropped by our apartment earlier that week to see if any of us had a flashy skirt which she could use.  Lucy was talented and funny.  I knew she would make a great fortune teller.

          Each time we made a choice, we were to turn in a yellow ticket and were given another color. 
          When the activities were completed, we passed through a door and would give our four tickets to one who “stood at the gate” and were ushered to our destination.  I had one yellow ticket, one orange and two blue. 

I ended up in the “Terrestrial” section along with more than half the ward.  As I recall there were only two couples (only four people) that had made it to the Celestial glory (the highest kingdom within the LDS Church) and only a few loners had been led to the Telestial (the lowest kingdom) section.  And I remember thinking to myself (even then) “This isn’t fair.  It’s not my fault that I’m still single.  It isn’t most of our faults.  We just happen to outnumber the guys.”

          I understood the activity and understood the concept that was being taught, but it felt like discrimination.  I had tried to get into the temple, but was robbed of that privilege because I had no partner – no guy partner.  And it had to be a guy.  It didn’t seem to matter much if I loved him or not – just so long as I “had done the right thing”

          I felt discriminated because I was single.  I felt discriminated because it wasn’t my fault.  I felt like I had been judged unfairly.  I was not happy with the results.  And as I looked around, those I felt closest to had all ended up in the same kingdom as I.  And I thought, “If this experiment really is accurate of the results to come, I don’t even want the Celestial Kingdom.  It looks lonely” (as there were a number of empty chairs)

          It didn’t occur to me then that my baby brother would grow up and be asked to leave the Church – well, not him personally – but that his records would be removed.  It didn’t occur to me that one day the Church would discriminate against him and his partner and deny them the blessings that actually so many of us are denied – because of civil marriage or feminism or acting upon same sex attraction or even black members for many years or for exploring beyond the walls. It doesn't appeal to me to live in a kingdom that discriminates.

          I do have more thoughts on the subject of going beyond the walls, but will have to save it for another post as my thoughts are not really in a well written order.  Perhaps this is not either.  How great there is to have an editing tool.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Interpretation of Dreams and the Worth of Souls



          Roland has often told me about different dreams that he’s had and always concludes with, “What do you think it means?”

          Dreams are just that.  Some are bizaare.  Some are wonderful.  Some you hope to never “dream” again.  And perhaps some do have meaning.  Truthfully, I don’t place too much value in dreams.  I think that is how God communicated to his children at one time – and perhaps still does to some – though I think the methods of communication have broadened sufficiently since then. My personal opinion is that, overall, dreams really don’t mean a whole lot.
          Still, I often have crazy dreams that I will write down or share just because they are so bizarre.  And sometimes I ask myself what would have caused me to dream it.  But I never go into depth about the possible symbolism that may (or may not) exist. 



          Last night I dreamed my nephew-in-law was getting married.  The strange part about my dream is that I don’t think it was to my niece – though I don’t remember getting a good look at the bride’s face.  But physically she looked too short and not quite so thin as my niece, Ellen. Actually I don’t recall remembering any of the wedding party – except for my niece (Ellen’s sister) who is currently in junior high right now.

          I believe the marriage itself was in the temple.  I know I watched them get married.  And suddenly everybody was changed into picnic casual – except for me and my niece – though her skirt and vest were a lot more casual than the white strapless dress that I was wearing – a dress that was pretty, but one that I personally would NEVER wear in real life.  Not in front of others anyway.  Not to a picnic.  And certainly not to the temple.

          And suddenly my thoughts turned to weddings past and things that had been missed out on.  I tried to shut it out.  I was tired.  It was early and I wanted to sleep still.  But I finally got up and turned on the computer and started reading through many of the comments left on this post.

          So often we allow ourselves to feel unloved, useless or unwhole because of certain comments made in society or by the Church.  We are told that we need to fit into this perfect mold, this compact Mormon box – and if you have feminist thoughts or same sex attraction or if you don’t go to the temple a certain amount of days or if you wear open-toed shoes without hose to Church or if you don’t volunteer for at least every other canning assignment – well, you just don’t fit into the box and you need to repent and turn your life around.  And if you don’t, you are not worthy of the “Mormon Box” Club.

         The young women of the church are taught values.  One of these values is Individual Worth. This is defined as individuals, each with her own divine mission which she will strive to fulfill – “for the worth of souls is great in the sight of God”. 

         I don’t believe he is looking for carbon copies but expects us to be true to Him but also true to ourselves – even though sometimes the two may seem to conflict.  We still have to find what makes us happy and stay true to who we are meant to be regardless of path others may follow or think that we should follow.  No matter how we act or what we do or who we are or how we dress – we will NEVER PLEASE ALL PEOPLE – we all have our own differences, our own personal taste, our own individual worth.  It’s important that we remain TRUE TO OURSELVES.  We have all been given the same guidelines but are still free to make our own choices and receive our own personal revelations.

And sometimes these personal revelations may conflict with the teachings of the Church – or our own interpretations of those teachings anyway.  My brother gave up his membership to be with his partner – someone he would like to be with not just on this earth life but throughout all eternity. It is something he pondered about and struggled with for a long long time.  And he knows (as well as many others) that the decision made was right for him.  But the path that he’s on may not be the right one for all homosexuals.  He’s on a divine mission with several bumps in the road.  God has given him that unique gift of smoothing the path that others may follow.  He is a pioneer.



 Neither Corey nor his partner chose to feel same sex attraction.  Really, why would an individual subject himself (or herserlf) to choose being shunned, misunderstood, or have suicidal thoughts because he or she does not measure up to Club Society or the Mormon Box?  Why would one choose to be closeted and live life in fear because the feelings and emotions that one may experience don’t jive with what is being taught.  If one does decide to come out of the closet, he or she risks being rejected by friends, family members, society . . . because why?  Because there is that desire to be true to oneself and to be accepted and not ridiculed for not measuring up?  So they are not entititled to the same blessings anymore?  Seriously?  Is that really how God works?

Stake Conference is in just a few weeks.  It is most likely that a new president will be announced.  My husband may be considered for the position – perhaps NOT as the stake president but a counselor maybe – though it is the president who will have to pray and find revelation to call his own counselors – Roland is being considered.

And here I am not wanting to jeopardize his enthusiasm but still feeling desire for Corey and others to feel more than just a sense of belonging verbally (though many don’t even get that) – but to continue with membership if they so desire – to be able to take the sacrament again.  Especially when they are so strong in the gospel in Spirit – but their names have been removed, their membership diminished. And still there are many who remain closeted and hope the feelings will go away, that they don’t bring shame to anyone, who try to live up to the Church’s expectations but are not happy with themselves.

It wasn’t until after I returned from my temple recommend interview that I questioned myself – had I answered the questions honestly?  I had at the time that I gave them.  It came so automatic that I hadn’t questioned it at the time of the interview.  But I suppose I do sympathize with a group whose teachings are different from what is taught in the LDS Church. 

Thus far I haven’t acted upon it – such as campaigning for their cause by going door to door or holding picket signs or what have you – and probably wouldn’t because of Roland’s position.  He doesn’t have the same understanding that I have acquired.  And I did have to acquire it – for I once agreed with every single message I’d received from the leaders of the church and would ask no questions.  Now I view the homosexuals as a fellow Christian trying to save her Jewish friends during Hitler’s reign.

Will society make the homosexuals put bands upon their clothes – similar to the star of David (perhaps a rainbow – God’s sign of promise) – so that we will know?  Will we all the sudden treat our family and friends like lower class citizens – as though they are less important?  Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.  The worth of ALL souls not just straight souls, not just green souls, not just female souls . . . . fortunately God’s worth is so much greater than that of men.  For God is not the one who labels us and classifies us into categories of tolerance.  We are all worth more to Him than men can even comprehend.

Recently (on Youtube) I watched excerpts of Oprah’s interview with Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka and viewed it as such a sweet relationship and thought of what a remarkable love went in to planning their offspring and how incredibly blessed they all are.  And yet they have surely received criticism by many who refuse to understand, who refuse to see the miracle that has taken place between them, who view them with Pharisee eyes. I really appreciate Oprah’s “ah’hah” moment that she shares in the last 15 seconds of this video.



 A straight couple can have an unwanted baby on accident, but a gay couple has to plan and save and jump through legal hurdles to have a child, and so I would think there would be more love invested in that child (or children)  We’re people.  We are all people.  We’re not star bellied sneetches – though many of us act like we are.