May 2015 Visiting Teaching Message: Teacher’s Choice from Conference

I confess that the past 12 months have not been easy for me. We moved house twice in this 12 months, and each time, waited 3 -4 months after each initial move for our things to arrive on moving trucks. I feel like I have been packing, unpacking and setting up house constantly for a year. With a perpetual feeling of displacement and clutter—in my physical home as well as in my mind, it has been hard for me to focus on General Conference.

 

 

viewIn the place before where we are now, we were in a remote area; though it took us an hour and 45 minutes each way on a twisty, sometimes slippery canyon road, we attended every other week or more. I was excited to be in this ward at first, but began to feel less and less welcome as the weeks passed. My husband and I were not given callings, not asked to speak, and I began to struggle to feel the spirit at church. I was cornered on one Sunday by two women, one who professed with acidic sweetness that I should follow the “Strength For Youth” pamphlet when making comments in Relief Society. They clearly didn’t like my comment (something on prayer), and were trying to “correct” me. The other woman backed away, sensing the lack of spirit in the other’s words, but the snake still spit at me until I shook myself free. I did not feel safe at church after that, and guarded against being cornered again.

 

As Kate Kelly was excommunicated, and I began to fear for my own safety within the church, my daughters began to be bullied at school. Their tormentor? The only other LDS child at their school. He was the same age as their ages combined, and he seemed to aim his venom most upon my youngest, who was 5 years old. His parents refused to meet with us, though his mother called to blame me and my daughters for tormenting him. She also contacted the bishop, blaming us for making their lives harder– in what way I do not know, as I barely knew her and had little to no interaction with the family. Soon the principal and teachers all became involved and I began driving my daughters to school and picking them up, lingering in the car both times, to ensure they were safe.

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April 2015 Visiting Teaching Message: The Attributes of Jesus Christ: Without Guile or Hypocrisy

Easter-Candy-CollageI am a diabetic. I have been a diabetic since I was just under 2 years old. And that is okay. No, I don’t love it. But I am okay with it…..kind of. Mostly. Well, for now.

 

As a child with diabetes, life was hard. I remember running away from my mother as she neared me with a loaded syringe. I remember being angry that I had to have shots/needles/injections, whereas my siblings didn’t. I remember coming out of a darkness, but feeling confused and nauseous as spoonfuls of honey were ladled into my mouth, saving me from dangerously low blood-sugars. I remembered my siblings being jealous and angry at the undivided attention I was given when I had blood-sugar problems—and how I longed, desperately to be ignored when I had those problems. It wasn’t fun. And it made me cry long, hard and often for a child so small. I really have very few happy childhood memories, and I think diabetes is the reason behind this.

 

However, my dad—he was great. He helped to make diabetic things into games.

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Visiting Teaching March 2015: The Attributes of Jesus Christ: Long-suffering and Patient

Traduction en français/Click for French Translation

hourglassFrom about the age of 18 and well into my 20’s, every single blessing I had—blessings for study, blessing for heath in illness, being set apart— you name it, the blessing told me to “be patient.” This includes the time I declared my patriarchal blessing was a mistake, so my grandmother made some calls that resulted in a “new” blessing. This “new” patriarchal blessing told me my “old” patriarchal blessing was fine and in force, but, among a few important and intensely private additions—primarily reminded me that I needed to be patient. I grew to dread hearing the word, and by my mid-20’s, I began avoiding blessings from anyone just in case the term “patient” came up.

 

So when I saw that this month’s visiting teaching message was focused of Christ’s attributes of long-suffering and patient …. I was well-familiar and versed in the included admonitions.

 

But guess what? I’m still terrible at being patient.

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February 2015 Visiting Teaching Message: The Attributes of Jesus Christ: Without Sin

Traduction en français/Click for French Translation

Let’s be real. Any discussion of sin makes me uncomfortable. Sure, we all sin. But because we all do it…. it can get weird when we are supposed to discuss it. Especially in such a personal setting such as Visiting Teaching. My sin is my business, and if I am visiting teaching you, or even if not, your sin is your business. So whilst I know that this month’s message is focused on Christ and His lack of sin… any discussion of sin, for me has a judgmental feeling when compared to spirit of healing that attends with discussion of atonement. In this, this month’s message made me feel a little like I was winding up to “cast the first stone.”

 

cafeNot wanting to do this, I pondered and how to teach it, with love. In this, I remembered a night. Long ago. I was a YSA, faithfully fulfilling callings at my ward, at Institute and even the stake. I never felt comfortable with the crowd I deemed to be “Unwelcoming Molly-ish” (the kind of folks I envision now write these messages). So although I served with many of those individuals in the cliques, I socialised more with church attending, but peripheral individuals. In this, I had become very close to one woman. I trusted her, which for me, was something uncommon. We served together in a presidency, sat together between LDS boyfriends in Sacrament meeting and sometimes shared transportation to church activities. Her background was as imperfect as mine… which in this case, meant some of her family attended church, some did not, neither of us were from Utah (or predominantly LDS communities) and her father was not an RM (neither was mine, a strange factor sometimes in church clique socialising for us). We weren’t fringe dissenters, but we weren’t “church culture clique,” either.

 

She asked me to go out with her to grab dinner, I think. It might have been dessert. She mainly wanted to talk. As she spoke, she told me that she had sex, “once by choice, once not.”

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November 2014 Visiting Teaching: Teacher’s Choice from Conference

Click for French Translation/Traduction en français

 

“I love how they all do that when they are done with the speech, you know? That thing they say at the end every time?” This was to me byjesus loves you my non-Mormon friend after she had just attended a Mormon funeral. I was a bit perplexed about what she was talking about.

Then it came to me. “You mean… ‘in the name of Jesus Christ, amen’?”

“Yes!” she said emphatically, passionately and with a devoutness not common to her manner of speaking. “It really sounds sweet…but it means something more, ya know? I can tell. I means something. I like that. A lot. The rest of the talking was just….whatever… but that ending part…. I really like that.”

“Yes…” I said, somewhat vaguely. I had never thought about the way we, as Latter-day Saints, close speaking assignments and prayers up until that moment. I’ve heard people discuss how to begin prayers, from the traditional “Heavenly Father,” to the more progressive “Heavenly Parents,” or “Heavenly Mother,” and even to “God, the father of Abraham,” all pending social, traditional, personal and political influences. I’ve often heard people stumped over how to start a speaking assignment. But no matter the start, the end-speak cadence is always the same: “In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

I pondered this in consideration of the Visiting Teaching message from General Conference.

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October 2014 Visiting Teaching Message: The Divine Mission of Jesus Christ: Bread of Life

Click for French Translation/Traduction en français

Rosh Hashan'naSometimes in the church, we become so familiar with symbols that we forget what the symbol really is. Bread is one of those symbols that we hear about every week as the sacrament is being blessed and passed. And as I was contemplating this message, my mind swirled with thoughts of bread— literal bread. I thought of those who are gluten-intolerant, and Celiac, and cultures where bread is uncommon… and I wondered… what is the real substance behind bread?

I confess that the message this month did not feel clear to me about the use of the symbol of bread. Clearly Christ is the bread—as recorded by John (John 6:35), “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”

And yet… there are days like today, where I still feel alone, weepy, and just, well—spiritually unfilled. My spirit is hungry and thirsty. I know Christ is “the bread of life,” yet through my prayers and study today, I still feel…. Empty. I sense and fear that I am not alone in this feeling. That although we might know what is supposed to fill us, sometimes we still feel unfed. We seek for more.

 

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