Wednesday, April 30, 2014


There I was sobbing in our closed bedroom closet.  It had been yet another unofficial Mother's Day in our married student congregation -- a congregation which one visitor quipped "should be renamed the Maternity Ward."  It was true, at any given time, it seemed that at least one third of the ward was pregnant, while at least another third had newborn babies.  It was a very difficult congregation to be in during our child-less "unexplained infertility" years.  The real Mother's Day was hard enough, but at least I knew when it was coming, and could, to some degree, mentally prepare for it.  It was these unofficial Mother's Days, where all the messages shared by the members centered around the blessings and joy of motherhood, and where the Relief Society lesson was centered on the same, that left me in the emotionally crumpled heap I found myself in inside my closet.
I didn't want to come out.  Ever.  I was so tired of this rollercoaster.  I was so tired of hurting; of wanting; of wondering what I had done to render me so completely unworthy.  Emotionally, I felt completely beaten to a bloody pulp.
At some point during my heart-wrenching sobs, my husband knocked on the closet door, and gently reminded me that my Visiting Teachers would be at our home in just a few minutes.  In our faith, each woman is blessed to have two other women who give monthly service by watching over, helping out, offering support, and teaching her and her family.  My first instinct was to have him send them away, but I knew that would draw more attention to me and my "issues" than I could handle; so, I pulled myself together, emerged from the closet, fixed my make-up and greeted my Visiting Teachers when they arrived.
They were newly assigned to me, and we did not know each other well.  During the lesson, one of them shared with me a personal experience she had just had: she and her husband had just realized that she was pregnant!  They were devastated.  How could this happen?  The timing was SO bad!  They were trying to get through school, etc., etc.  And then, they found out that it was a false alarm.  They were SO relieved.
In short, it was The.Completely.Wrong.Message to share with me on that particular day.  Strangely enough, however, instead of feeling further crushed, I felt love.  I felt that these ladies went out of their way to come and visit me, and although the words were all wrong, I had a definite sense that I was being watched over, and that if they had had ANY idea what I had been feeling, not ten minutes before they arrived, they would have shared something very different with me.  But it didn't matter.  God made it all good.  I don't understand how He can make that happen, but I know He can, because I know He did.  A miracle?  Undoubtably.
This actually gives me hope and courage.  You see, there are a lot of trials that I have never experienced in this life (not complaining or asking for more, mind you) and I often feel that I have no idea what to say to friends, loved ones, or acquaintances who may be facing these trials.  But, maybe if I just open my mouth, and am sincere, God will make my WIBS (well-intentioned-but-stupid) remarks into something good-- in spite of my weaknesses and faults.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

No Manner of -Ites

I grew up in the wonderful Cache Valley in northern Utah.  My ancestors were pioneers who trekked west and went through many hardships to be allowed to worship “how, where, or  what they may”. (Article of Faith 11).

My husband and I moved to Southern California just months before our first child was born.  We enjoyed our time there, and eventually brought 3 more babies into our home.  We loved our home, our friends, our visitors, and our ward.  We had a great life.  But, we knew that it was time to make a change despite being very happy!  We knew that we needed to be a little closer to our family who were located mostly in northern Utah.

I was surprised at some of the reactions I faced as our news got out, mostly from people who didn’t know me very well.  One stake leader wondered how we could leave the ‘mission field’ to return to a Utah ward where we wouldn’t be nearly as needed.  One gal questioned our decision to ‘raise our children in that environment’.  When I inquired about what environment she was speaking of she replied, ‘Utah Mormons’.

I was frankly speechless.  My husband and I had prayed and pondered this for a long time.  In fact, when we had contemplated it a couple of years earlier we received an answer to stay put and try again later.  We did just that, and now was the time. 

My thoughts of what I could have said came later.  To the leader I might have assured him that I would serve wherever and whenever I was asked (I currently have 2 callings), and that the entire world is the mission field. To the other gal I might have reminded her that our dear prophet and other church leaders are UTAH MORMONS!

Why do we even have to use that term?  I get the feeling that the people who do feel some kind of pride, though I’m not sure what for.  I worry about using terms like this, as it reminds me of times in the Book of Mormon when people divided themselves into “ites”.  Instead, we need to be more like the people in Fourth Nephi when there was no “manner of –ites; but they were one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.  And how blessed were they!”

In a recent local address given by Sister Elaine Dalton, former general young women’s president, she said the following,

“Unity does not mean sameness.”

Can’t we live where we want and still be unified and not call each other names?   Can’t we all just get along in our differences while we focus on our similarities?

For instance, I know that God lives.  I know that Joseph Smith had a vision of our Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ.  I know that Thomas S. Monson is our prophet on earth today.  I know that I am a child of God.  And I know that you are too. 
 If you believe these things as well then these are some pretty big similarities!

I am grateful for the opportunity to worship "how, where, or what I may".  I think if I could go back and speak to the naysayers of our move I would reply,

 {Wherever I am!}


I was planning to publish this post today, and was supported in my plan when we read this devotional  this morning from our “Stand a Little Taller” book, quotes from President Gordon B. Hinckley.  “We speak of the fellowship of the Saints.  This is and must be a very real thing.  We must never permit this spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood to weaken.  We must constantly cultivate it.  Simply put, we must be friends.  We must love and honor and respect and assist one another.  Wherever Latter-day Saints go, they are made welcome, because Latter-day Saints are mutual believers in the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ and are engaged together in His great cause.  We are one great family…”.



Sunday, April 13, 2014

Break Out of The Jell-O Mold!

And no, this post has NOTHING to do with physical fitness, so stick with me, please!

Several months ago, a friend posted somewhere online that her daughter's pre-school was having a cultural celebration day and each child was supposed to bring a food item that represented their cultural heritage. My friend, raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Utah, determined that her daughter would celebrate her religious culture side by bringing a green jello dish. Because nothing screams stereotypical Mormon than a great green jello salad, right? ;-) I thought this was a cute idea for a pre-schooler to do a little missionary work. I have no idea how in the world Jello became synonymous with Mormon, but somewhere along the lines, we've all heard it. 

But that got me thinking. A LOT of times, we pour Jello into molds. In those cases, our purpose is to have the jello come out looking a specific way and by a certain way, I mean “a perfect imitation of the mold.” Even if we're not intending on the jello to come out and be a specific shape from the mold, it does form to whatever container we pour it into to set. And a LOT of times, we tend to try to put ourselves and even other people into molds. Our minds love to categorize. It's not always a bad thing, but in some cases, it doesn't work to our advantage.

Some molds that I can think of are “athletic” I certainly don’t feel I fit that mold, but I do enjoy a certain few athletic endeavors, but I certainly am not in that mold. There is the “musically talented” mold, oh, I do fit this one, and I love it! There’s a “crunchy, granola” mold (which has several different definitions, but the one I am familiar with is a person who prefers natural remedies and tries to eat organic while also being “green”), the “rich” mold, the “book nerd” mold (I definitely belong here too), there are religion based “molds” too. We all probably have, based on personal experience, a molded image that comes to mind when you think of: Jehovah’s Witnesses, LDS/Mormons, Orthodox Jews, Mennonites, Amish, Southern Baptist, Hindu, Islam. Whether or not our views on ANY mold are correct is up for grabs. And whatever our perceptions are, at least a tiny bit is probably based on truth. But for now, I’m going to specifically address the topic of fitting into the “LDS mold.”

People who don’t know me very well, and even some who do would probably say that I fit the mold of a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. But here's a secret: I don't FEEL like I fit into the LDS mold. I never have. Sometimes I feel isolated because I feel like instead of coming out of the mold, I come out like most of my attempts at jello do: a big blob with no definition of shape. As a child and teen, I was shunned by many of my peers because I was "too good" for them. A "goodie-two shoes". I never understood why a group of kids going to a church that taught that we should be good and that it would bring happiness and blessings to be good, would think that being good was undesirable. But I grew up with many. I never got it. Those kids didn't fit MY idea of the LDS mold. As an adult, I converse with friends of the same faith and realize that what I personally believe about any given subject doesn't always match what they believe about the same subject. Those people don't fit MY idea of the mold! But wait, I thought the LDS Church preached uniformity?! How come there isn't a large group of people who FIT THE MOLD HERE?! Certainly, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints does uphold a certain degree of uniformity, but there is a LOT of room for people-and even congregations as a whole to be unique and different. Remember if you MUST use a mold, the best ones are flexible (silicone vs. metal anyone?) As stated in Handbook 2 Adiminstering in the Church Chapter 17, "Members of the Church live in a wide variety of political, social, and economic conditions. Wards and branches also vary in size and leadership resources. These conditions may require local leaders to adapt some Church programs. Such adaptations typically affect the auxiliaries, leadership meetings, and activity programs. The guidelines in this chapter are intended to help priesthood leaders determine which adaptations may be appropriate and which are not."

Because here's another secret: The LDS "mold" is a figment of the imagination. Notice I said that I had a specific idea of what the mold was, but couldn’t find many people who met it. Because more specifically, the "mold" is most likely everything you think you're NOT but feel you SHOULD be. In other words, your perception of the mold is different from MY perception of the mold, and quite possibly holding you back from being your best self. Because that mold only reflects back your weaknesses, it doesn't necessarily inspire you to do better. To illustrate this point, I'm going to list whatever comes to mind when I try to picture what I USED to believe the Ideal LDS Woman's Mold was: (in no particular order)

Bakes bread
Has 1 year + food storage for entire family
Has at least 3 month's salary saved up in case of a "rainy day"
Teaches amazing FHE lessons complete with activity and treat that are planned more than 10 minutes in advance
Looks perfectly put together-hair and make up done every day, even if just going to the store
Arrives to church at LEAST 5 minutes early. Her kids sit quietly for the WHOLE duration of sacrament meeting
Home schools. Or talks about how she's going to home school one day. If she doesn’t home school, she volunteers. A lot. She’s probably running for PTO president.
Exercises enough to stay healthy and fit
Cooks 3 hot meals a day-that don't come from a box, and maybe only a few cans (because you HAVE to rotate that food storage, ya know!)
Keeps an immaculately clean house
Reads scriptures every day
Doesn't forget morning prayers
Does her visiting teaching within the first 2 weeks of the month
Bakes cookies for her husband's home teaching families
Has musical talent
Has Pinterest worthy crafting skills-WITHOUT having to go to Pinterest
Magnifies her callings in her ward
NEVER swears
Blogs consistently
Plans wholesome recreational activities for her family
Has memorized The Family, A Proclamation to the World
Makes hair bows for her girls

Ok, I think you get the picture here. I could go on. The point is, when I look at ALL those things together, they're so overwhelming that it just reeks of "just give up you'll never get there". Let’s get things straight. NONE of those things on the list are bad in any way. Many of them are awesome, and some extremely important! The lie is that in order to “fit in” you have to be able to check off all of those things before becoming truly acceptable in the eyes of everyone else in the religion, including yourself. The even BIGGER lie we tell ourselves is that everyone else has accomplished this list. Or whatever YOUR list is.

So, how to we break out of the mold, or rather the IDEA that a mold even exists? It's going against human nature, or the natural man as Mosiah (3:19) put it, to do so. In the movie "Get Smart" with Anne Hathaway and Steve Carell, they are portraying secret agents. Anne's character spots a large middle-eastern man wearing a turban in the back of a plane they are on and reports to Steve that there is a "bad man" in the back. Steve accuses her of "profiling" and they are professionally obligated not to do it. When he spots the same man in question his jerk response is something to the effect of "Oh that is a REALLY bad man! Wait, no that's profiling and I'll have nothing to do with it!" Which is what we need to do. As soon as we catch ourselves shoving ourselves or anyone else for that matter into a mold, apply Elder Uchtdorf's policy of "Stop it!" Even though he was referring to judging people, isn't it a form of judging when we unfairly put ourselves and others into a mold that doesn't exist? You can read his full address here

It is true that a vast majority if LDS women hold the same basic set of doctrines and teachings dear and apply them to their lives. And because of this, we do seem to all come from the same mold, the mold of modest dressing, family driven, community conscious, charity giving women. But being a woman in this Church is SO much more than any molded perception ANYONE could possibly have. A friend of mine pointed out that the people she thinks, “fit the mold” better than her are the people she doesn’t know very well. As we get to know them better, we have a much more realistic view of them, that they are actually human with imperfections just like us! Who probably don’t feel like they fit the mold either-but until getting to know you felt like you fit the mold better than them!

In the Church, the Young Women have 8 Values that they strive to develop. One of them is Individual Worth. To me this means that we all have different strengths and weaknesses-that we are all individuals trying our best to be our best selves. Fitting into a mold was not meant for us. Abraham 3:23 states “23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast achosen before thou wast born.

The souls were good. Not identical. And molds-when all is said and done-are intended to create multiple identical objects. Please do away with the idea that a mold even exists. Please embrace the value of Individual Worth for yourself and others. We are all absolutely and irrevocably important to God’s plan-without having to be popped out of a mold. Leave that for next potluck when you want to bring Jello. :-)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Why Choice Oranges?

The word choice has multiple meanings.  I want to talk about two:

choice (noun): the right, power, or opportunity to choose.

choice (adjective): worthy of being chosen; excellent; superior.  carefully selected.

Young women around the world who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are taught to embrace and develop these values: faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good works, integrity, and virtue.  Each value has a color associated with it.  When I was a teenage girl, growing up in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, my youth leaders gave us word associations to help us remember which value goes with which color.  The only color association that really stuck with me was the color orange for choice and accountability.  They simply said the phrase, "choice oranges".

A really good orange looks beautiful, smells fantastic, and tastes amazing.  These qualities make it worthy of being chosen, excellent, and superior, or in other words, choice.  It is exactly this kind of choice orange that I want the right, power, or opportunity to carefully select, or in other words, choose.  Therefore, the word association worked really well for me in this instance, because the simple phrase "choice oranges" contained the ability to choose, the kind of choice that is desirable, and the value color.

On April 5th of this year, Randall Ridd gave an address in which he said,  " have probably heard before that you are a “chosen generation,” meaning that God chose and prepared you to come to earth at this time for a great purpose. I know this to be true. But this evening I would like to address you as the “choice generation” because never before in history have individuals been blessed with so many choices."(

It is true.  I don't know who you are, or even if you believe in God, but you probably agree that we live in a day and age with so many opportunities, so much information, so many voices vying for our attention, that we must become experts in making choice choices.  Because, as Randall Ridd also points out, "The abundance of choice, however, carries with it an equal portion of accountability. It facilitates your access to both the very best and the very worst the world has to offer. With it you can accomplish great things in a short period of time, or you can get caught up in endless loops of triviality that waste your time and degrade your potential."  (

This blog has many authors, each one a choice woman, carefully selected for their beautiful, fantastic and amazing qualities.  Each one uses her right, power, and opportunities to choose the good in this world.  None of us is perfect, nor do we claim to be.  We are each individuals with our own perspectives, experiences, mistakes, and voices, which we hope to share with you -- whoever you may be--and if you make your choice to spend some time with us, we commit to do our best to make our contributions choice!