First I would like to tell you that I thought she was a man.  A single divorced man raising a child.  That’s the beauty of internet acquaintances, I guess.  I always thought gst was a girl.  A smart, funny girl.

Melanie Franti, a native Californian who transplanted to Salt Lake in 2000 after joining the church in 1999 is fairly new to blogging.  She was hanging out at work, doing some computer research and happened upon FMH, which she enjoyed.  She then clicked on a link to Times and Seasons.

She reports being blown away at the ideas and free expression.  Although she enjoyed Times and Seasons, she felt very inadequate to their intellect and was virtually ignored.  (What a foreign concept, feeling inferior and ignored on Times and Seasons).  Not feeling welcome, she wandered back to FMH and has made dear friends of the girls over there.

*I explained my opinion of this phenomenon:  I believe they get a LOT of traffic and it’s really hard to keep up with newcomers.  They are also highly educated with busy careers, and, I have discovered it’s way harder being a blogger than a commenter.  People do get lost in the shuffle.  One on one, they’re great people, as a group, they appear to have their nose in the air.    Like Marta said, “the nicest group of people to totally ignore me.”

Melanie grew up very rough in Orange County, abandoned by her father and abused by her mother.  As a teen, she became pregnant and married the father of her baby, who also was abusive.  Since their divorce, he’s constantly in jail for abusing his current girlfriends.

Melanie, however, somehow always had a sense of purpose based on her belief in God.  When she left her husband, she stayed with kind LDS folk and was exposed to the gospel.  One day, when she was feeling terrible anxiety after her ex-husband was yet again arrested, her hosts offered to give her a blessing.  They tried to explain the concept by referencing her Catholic faith and the blessings given by the priests.

“It’s all the same God,” she replied and was given a priesthood blessing which somehow gave her peace and she relates that her life began looking up from then on.

The missionaries dropped by to say hi to her for about six months, never bringing up conversion or the discussions, until one day she told them she’d stopped drinking, on her own.

She took the discussions, converted, and has been faithful ever since.  She is still in touch with and close to one who was very instrumental in her conversion.

Melanie re-married a year and a half ago to a man who is a wonderful person, but not a member of the church,  and she is very happy.  They met while they were both teaching snowboarding at a place that begins with an “S” but I can’t remember the name.  She has a 13 year old “absolutely beautiful” daughter who she adores.

She’s the Laurels leader in her ward and she loves that calling.  She feels that her purpose in life is to be a great example of what not to do and at the same time, what can be accomplished.   She says, “look at the crap I came out of, but I came out ahead because I have a God who loves me.”

Guys, you know, there truly are no ordinary people.  Melanie Franti, I’m so glad you’re one of us.  I’ll be introducing other commenters as time goes on.