Mormon Lit Blitz

Ok, peeps. It’s time to expand your Mormon literature library to include a bit of fabulousness. I entered an old post I wrote for Mormon Mentality in a Mormon literature contest (totally legit, they allowed previously published stuff and besides, let’s be real, who besides my husband (who I require to read my MM posts) actually reads my posts on MM? Don’t worry, I’m not bitter. I enjoy having a whole website all to myself. I prefer not sharing my kitchen, bathroom or words.) Read more »

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My Five Mothers

I believe we are given as many parents as we need to learn the life lessons that are necessary for us. I’m not sold on the idea that it is a predestined contract signed before we all showed up on Earth, but I do believe that there are special people to help us along our way. I also believe there are as many relationships as there are people in the world, so there is an overabundance of opportunities to get things right if that is your goal.

I needed five mother’s to get me through. Most people only need one and maybe a good second mother-in-waiting to get the job done, but I had five. I am perfectly happy with the women who I chose or they chose me, to teach me the ways of the world. I am lucky because for every difficult mother I had, I was able to find another who was able to erase the pain and give me a boost of needed courage and confidence.

Let me introduce you to the important women who mothered me and made me whole.

1. Claudia – My biological mother. Through no fault of her own, she was only able to mother me until I was 7 years old, and most of that time she had to share me with my second mom. I honor Claudia because she gave my brother and me all that she had. She has suffered unimaginable heartache in losing her children to an unfair system that she had no control over. I can’t imagine having her strength to carry on and live a full life without overpowering bitterness and anger against the world. I am so glad we found each other as adults.

Claudia with my brother Rex, circa 1966. Cuties, right? 

2. Dorothy – My foster mother from age 2 to 7. She was a helper mother to Claudia and made it possible for us to have a relationship with our biological parents. Since we weren’t her only foster children and she had 3 biological children of her own,  I was just another child in her home. I had freedom in her home because she didn’t have rules or much structure. As an adult, I can see that I pretty much ran wild.
I don’t have a picture of Dorothy because my computer crashed and I lost all the photos from a research trip to Oregon that Rob and I took in 2009. I did keep a handful of pictures that were still on a cell phone. The only one that survived from Dorothy’s house turned out to be very appropriate since Dorothy only vaguely remembered me and my brother. Even though we lived with her for 5 years, we didn’t register high on her list of memorable children. We were just a paycheck to her.


The basement door in Dorthy’s foster home. Each foster child signed their name.
 There are A LOT of names on that door. 

3. Virginia – My adoptive mother. She raised me from age 7 to 18. I left on my eighteen birthday and I never spent another night in her house. I don’t regret my decision to leave. Actually, I am confident my leaving saved my sanity and possibly my life. I learned more from Virginia than I care to remember, but I do appreciate that she taught me the proper ways to fold towels, clean the bathroom, and how to keep my deepest soul protected from people who would do harm to it. Virginia gave me many opportunities to practice that last one. That skill has served me well as an adult. Virginia did not break me.

Virginia with Rex and I shortly after we were adopted. We were sweet looking kids. 

4. Anna – My healing mother. I lived with Anna for almost two years after I left Virginia’s house. She and her husband provided me with food, a safe place to sleep and a sense of stability that I had never experienced previously in my life. Anna wasn’t a perfect mother, but she was perfect for me, and I love her for that. She was an excellent cook and my hair and fingernails grew like crazy at her house. Anna’s simple acts of feeding me, asking me about my day and listening when I talked, healed so much. I thank her for being willing to take on me and my beaten down spirit. She did a good job with me.

5. Barbara – My teaching mother. I was 19 when I married Rob. When I became a mother at 21, the reality of my ignorance of taking care of children was painfully obvious. Barbara (my best friend Stephanie’s stepmother) became my phone-a-mother lifeline. She helped with the daily questions that all new mothers had before the internet made parenting one ginormous Google search. More importantly, when my children were diagnosed with hearing losses, and then when we rushed to the hospital on a regular basis for health crisses’, her occupation as a nurse was a godsend because she was able to explain medical procedures and medication in ways that I understood. She was a safe mother for me to cry and wail to, and she agreed it wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair my children were sick. It wasn’t fair that I had already had a crappy childhood and now I was having a crappy motherhood. When would it get fair? Barbara’s wisdom was able to calm my fried nerves and give me hope when no one else could. I love her for her lessons about how to survive when you are so worn out you just want to lay down and die. Barbara taught me how to live.

I thank all my mother’s for sharing with me what they had. The good, the bad, the hurtful and the sublime. I accept it all with gratitude.


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We Don’t Need No Bible Study

A couple of my dearest girlfriends have explored life outside of our happy little Mormon circle. They have both attended Bible study/prayer groups started by groups of women of different faiths. And I applaud both of them for doing it.

My one friend started attending a prayer and scripture group specific to women going through divorce. They meet once a week and talk about what is going on for each of them, then they pray together and discuss scriptures that can help them in their struggles. It is beautiful, supportive group that my born-under-the-covenant LDS friend says taught her for the first time her life, what it means to really pray and have an honest conversation with Heavenly Father. She and I can’t understand why our faith discourages independent bible study or support groups among our members. It seems that we are only allowed to discuss scriptures in correlated meetings (translation: where men are present with the Priesthood power ) because women can’t be trusted to discuss their deepest trials and joys without oversight.

My other friend has joined a prayer group consisting of women who get together once a week to pray for the children in their local schools. They also have lively discussions about class, race, social justice, and most interesting, most of the women and their families sponsor orphanages or women’s health centers in developing countries. A few of the women have even traveled to foreign countries with their families to provide boots on the ground care for those they sponsor. It is inspiring to my friend to see women being so active in doing charitable works and having such a deep knowledge of the realities of poverty, corrupt governments, poor health care and brutalities that women and children endure all over the world. It makes our monthly RS home enrichment classes pale in comparison.

Of course, neither of my friends is interested in truly jumping from the Mormon ship. What they talk about though, is their puzzlement that our church does not encourage members to meet outside of regular church meetings for scripture study or prayer groups. I’m sure there are rogue pockets that are allowed to meet, but it is NOT commonplace. I told them both that I figure the internet has solved that problem all by itself because I don’t know of any religion that has more online blogs than Mormons do. We may not meet in each other’s houses, but we are in each others blog sites. Both of my friends shook their heads in frustration. Apparently there is no substitute for a regular old-fashioned meet and greet at someone’s house to make you feel loved and supported. I had to agree they had a point. I’ve just been too much of a Mormon to realize the difference.

So why don’t we do scripture study groups. prayer groups, support groups in each other’s homes? What exactly are we afraid of?

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I’ve got Swollen Lymph Nodes

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On both sides of my neck, the lymph nodes are swollen. Not hugely, but just enough to make my neck and face look fat. It is annoying. It doesn’t hurt, and I’m not dying. Read more »

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The Day Jesus and I Learned About Sex

By the time I was a freshman in high school, I had already sat through a 6th grade girls-only film about the importance of Sally using soap to wash her pits because of her changing body, and an 8th grade girls P.E. class about how I was soon to become a woman. Read more »

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The Part I Didn’t Get

Patriarchal blessings.

Lots of people have opinions about them.
People have opinions about theirs, their spouses, their children’s, and no one else’s because they are sacred documents not to be shared or discussed with anyone outside of your family and preferably not even in your family. It’s between you and Heavenly Father and no one else. And most of the time, I see the wisdom of that. It weirds me out on the rare occasion someone mentions their blessing at church, especially when they quote from them during a talk. (That hasn’t happened for a good long while. Ever since the church instituted the practice of Sacrament Meeting talks being regurgitated General Conference talks, I haven’t heard even one talk about Patriarchal Blessings from a pulpit. Apparently it isn’t a hot topic in Salt Lake City.)

Anyway, today I’m gonna write about a small part of my Patriarchal blessing because I feel like it. I am old enough I am no longer afraid that if I speak publicly about it, a blessing might be taken away from me. I don’t have much big stuff to look forward to and at this point my life is mostly the enduring to the end part. Read more »

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I *Heart* Jack Weyland

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Like first true loves that you never fully shake off, my favorite LDS book author is the first one I read as a teenager. I read his short stories in the New Era, the monthly magazine for LDS teenagers, then at the end of my first and second years of perfect attendance in seminary classes, Brother Davis gave me collections of Jack Weyland’s short stories in book form. Before Brother Davis presented me with those books, the only thing I knew about Jack Weyland was that he made me laugh and feel better about being a Mormon kid. His writing was easy to understand and always empathized with the travails of being a good person in a wicked world full of temptations.

The first BYU film I ever saw was in the Mesa, AZ temple visitors center, where I went with my ward as a youth activity. It was based on Jack Weyland’s short story, “Sometimes a Phone Call.”

If you haven’t seen it or it has been years, please thank the internet for making it possible for you to enjoy a light-hearted remembrance of the awkwardness of teenagers. Read more »

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I’m a Free-Range Chicken

You know how there has been a dust-up with how chickens are raised in America (hint: inhumanely) and now McDonalds and other food companies are saying that they will no longer buy chickens that are raised in cages, only cage-free? Read more »

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My Turn To Say Thanks

Brother Davis now teaches seminary in Utah. Lucky kids.
Brother Davis now teaches seminary in Utah. Lucky kids.

Recently, I wrote a post acknowledging the two men in the church who literally gave my brother Rex, a reason to live. I love both Thelton Skipper and John Carmen with all my heart for the love they unconditionally gave Rex.

Now it is my turn to acknowledge the people who saved me. The problem is, unlike my brother who only needed the attention of two key people to change his life, I needed a truckload of people to help me. All my life I grasped for every bit of positive attention I could get, starting with my earliest memories of being nice to the neighbors so they would like me. I worked hard to be the teacher’s pet at school and if that wasn’t possible, at least to not cause problems for them. Read more »

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5 Church Callings That Don’t Require Man Junk

Lots of people have written about the crazy lack of women’s presence in church callings and the response always has been the same.
The Priesthood.
The Proper Order of Things.
The Prophet.
Don’t Mess With the Man. Read more »

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My Big Idea That I Hope Someone Steals

My ward is planning its quarterly ward temple trip. Our temple is almost 2 hours away, which means a temple trip makes for a great day trip with the youth doing baptisms for the dead and adults doing all other temple work. It also means every temple trip is a mad scramble to take care of the most precious resource the church has – the children. Read more »

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Becoming a Democrat

I registered as a Republican so that I could vote in the primaries for someone I have still never met. Well, Bill sold his mom a car and she called one day asking for our vote. It was county clerk—I think. Bill was delighted to declare his loyalty that way; I was just humoring a little old lady. It has made for interesting conversation because I like to surprise people who think I’m a Democrat (or a socialist). Read more »

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Quick Question

What level of sickness should make someone stay home from church?
Inquiring minds want to know.

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My Brother, Rex

Someone recently said something that reminded me of my deceased brother. Rex has been gone for 15 years, which is long enough for my memories of him to take on the misty-edges of softness that movies scenes showing the past often have. Read more »

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The Missionary Work I Didn’t Do

We live in a lovely neighborhood. We are surrounded by the friendliest, most helpful people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. Our neighbors come from all religious faiths, employment and living situations. I love the diversity of our block because it makes for the best casual sidewalk talk in the world. Read more »

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When He Was God

Years ago during stake conference meeting, our stake president told a story about a guy who came to him for advice about starting a business. Read more »

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And Now…For A Bit of Humor

A friend of mine sent me this message and I just have to share. It is too good to keep to myself.

The set up:
My friends son’s wedding day, inside a temple.

“So after the sealing which started late due to the sheer huge volume of people who attended (probably to make sure nobody backed out as they are so close to 30) I had to use the bathroom. So I unsnap the bra-like hooks from the crotch of my spanx, which rolled up like a tourniquet, removing EVERY OUNCE OF URINE from my bladder. I’m like “ok, good” but then – then – I couldn’t get it rehooked. I would get one side and the other would come undone. I’m trying to pull this strap from my backside up close enough to see (which isn’t possible) and attach it. I’m in there FOREVER. Then my visiting teacher knocks on the stall and is like “are you ok?” I’m seriously getting concerned and just blurt out “I may have to have you go above and beyond the call of visiting teaching duty and come in my stall and hook my Spanx…at my crotch”. She hesitates and says “well if you really need me to…..” And at that moment the heavens opened and took pity on me and I got the stupid thing reattached. And as an extra bonus I didn’t have to pee again until after the reception.”

And that is what it means to be a Mormon.

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Did You Hear the News? We’re in Last Place!!!

I’m so excited! Several other way, way more prominent Mormon blog sites do year-end “Best Of” awards. This year, the Mormon Mentality blog site and participants actually got nominated in several categories! Can believe it?!

Us. The popular kids at school know our name! Yay for us!

Times and Seasons did their awards, but it doesn’t even count because they are stuck- up enough to say to readers, “Vote for all the categories but know that we (the T&S bloggers) will pick the final winners.” Huh? What’s the point of pretending to be democracy-loving Americans, when at the end of the day, you are really North Korean oppressors who pick your own leaders?

The votes that count, came from the blog WheatandTares.org

In their poll, The Wheaties, Mormon Mentality got last place for Best Group Blog, (out of 16 choices), Living in Zion got last place for Best Blogger (out of 5 choices) and Annegb got last place for Best Blog Commenter ( out of 6 choices). Heck, it is awesome we got noticed in ANY category!

It is true what they say, it is an honor to be nominated.

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Measuring Parental Success

(reprinted by permission from ezrandhadassah.blogspot.com)

This thought came to me as I pondered the injustices of parenting. I can’t think of a more soul-sucking, exhaustion-filled occupation in the world, than being a parent. Many people enter into the business of parenting with a nervous, I-hope-this-all-works-out-well attitude, acknowledging they have no idea what they are doing. For whatever reason, the universe has seen fit to have us humans enter this world with no built-in blueprint of instinctual rules to follow for our care. Everyone has to figure out parenting for themselves.

Some people are blessed with healthy, happy, easy-going children who never give their parents an ounce of trouble. Others have offspring that are a challenge from day one and that never changes. Still others have to deal with the hurdles of children with disabilities, special needs or illnesses that add an immeasurable amount of pressure, worry and responsibility to the endeavor.

How is it possible to know if you are doing a good job as a parent? It doesn’t seem fair to judge a person with an “easy” child a better parent than a person who struggles mightily, doing all they can, sacrificing everything, and their child still chooses a life path of self-destruction and heartache. Judging success solely by children’s outcome is a recipe for despair and frustration. Each child has the right and obligation to make their own life choices, regardless of the efforts or neglect of their parents. For good or bad, every human has free will to act for themselves.

The only sane and reasonable measuring stick of parenting has to be an internal examination of our own selves. What have you learned from your parenting experiences? Patience? Empathy? Self-sacrifice? Self-discipline? Hope? Joy? Humor? Love? The list of possible answers is endless, but each should be a hint as to how far you have come since you too, embarked on humanity’s unknowable journey of parenthood.

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Cake!

Yesterday, as soon as it was announced the church was going to hold a press release at 10am, my mind started racing, wondering what the topic would be. Whatever it was, I knew it would be a big deal because our church doesn’t hold press conferences nearly as often as the Catholic church. I wasn’t disappointed.
The church talked about my favorite dessert: Read more »

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