Thursday, December 31, 2015

My house

Nobody is ever going to look at my house and say, 'My, what a lovely home!'  And nobody is ever going to look at my house and say, 'Wow. You are an amazing housekeeper.'  And nobody is ever going to look at my house and say, 'This looks fabulous! You always have things spotless and in their places.'  And if anyone said my house looked like a magazine spread, I'd know they had mistaken me for someone else.

But a friend came to visit this week and after she left, she emailed me and said that despite having 8 kids, my house is so peaceful and has a calming influence, and she didn't want to leave, and her kids prayed the next day that they were so grateful to have been able to come to our house.

I had been feeling like such a failure for my housekeeping "skills" (hahaha). But, given the choice, I'd rather be praised for having created a calming, loving sanctuary where people feel safe and loved and rejuvenated and don't want to leave because of how they feel when they are here than being praised for having a "lovely home."

As wonderful as pretty spaces are, safe spaces and heart-lifting spaces are so much more valuable.

Perhaps I am not such a failure at houses after all.

Jack says,

Jack, running in his new socks, came sliding up to me, "I'm so fast! I'm the gingerbread man!"

Me: "You also smell poopy. Are you a poopy gingerbread man?"

Jack: "No! Gingerbread men can't be poopy. They don't have a bum!"

Jack says....

I was reading the computer today when Jack walked up next to me and said, "Can I bang the computer?" I, thinking he meant with his bare hand or a little toy, absently said, "Sure."  

Then I looked up. Just in time, as he had a HAMMER in his hands!

Redirected him to the couch to do his banging there.

Note to me: Always look at a kid before you agree to let them do something.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Jack says....

Jack: "Mom, we have to go to the seminary store. Because that's where my birthday lives. We have to get in the car and drive there. Because I'm poopy. So I can't go."

me:  "Or we could just change your diaper."

Friday, December 11, 2015

Jack says....

Jack, after working hard to get his shark costume on, "I got my shark jacket on. Now I'm a dolphin! Dolphins have bums." And then he walked away.


Jack, "I want to go to the doctor to get a robot in my mouth."
Me: "What?"
Jack: "Daniel has a robot in his mouth. I want to go to the doctor to get a robot in my  mouth."

Daniel has a palate expander in the roof of his mouth. It looks like this:

I guess to Jack, it's a robot! 

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Jack says....

me: "Jack, are you poopy?"
Jack: "No. I'm Batman."


me: "Jack, let's get in the car to go to the store."
Jack: "But Daddy took da car."
me: "No, Daddy went in Dwight's car."
Jack: "Oh! So we can go in da blue car."
me: "Yes."
Jack: "Because Daddy went in da white car so we can go in da blue car because da white car is gone with Daddy and you fixed it!"
me: "Uh....the white van is still broken. Daddy went with his friend, Dwight in his car."
Jack: "Yes. In da white car. So we can take da blue car to da store."

Jack: "Mom, can we make these cakes?" (Holding a cake pan that has animal shapes in it)
Me: "Sure."
Jack, looking at the pan: "Giraffses are soft. But lions are scary scary scary! They could eat me eat me!"

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Gun control

Lots of talk about gun control lately.

Lots of passion involved from lots of people.

Lots of not getting to a decent conclusion from either side.

Why is that?

I think there are two problems.

1. There is a lot of stupid partisan politicking going on. Lots of people saying, "This is obvious" and "There _is_ no other solution."  That's just plain not helpful.  Lots of people rejecting each other's stats out of hand rather than thoughtful discussion.

2. Failure to define the problem.  The problem has been defined as "guns" when really we're talking about multiple problems and guns are a thread that runs through them. The solutions to "guns" is different depending on what the problem is.

Terrorism is one problem, and you'd not solve that by getting guns out of people's houses.

Suicide by firearm is another problem, and you can solve that by getting guns out of people's houses.

Mass shootings by insane people who get angry at society are yet another problem, and it appears that greater attention paid to ammunition stockpiling might help red-flag some of these people (but not all).

Inner-city gang violence is another problem, and there are great programs, like Ceasefire, that appear to work if they get enough funding.

Until we have more research about the actual causes and courses of action to deal with these problems, "guns" is not going to get fixed, as far as I can tell.  You have to deal with the overabundance of weapons in our society AND the whatever-it-is that convinces a person to shoot.

So I was going to write more but this guy did it for me, so go read this:

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Caleb says....

So, I was helping Dan with math and tuned in to the other kids just in time to hear "adjusting the laws of physics..." come out of someone's mouth.

"What?" I said. "I tune out for just a minute and you're all adjusting the laws of physics on me?"

"Yes, I am adjusting the laws of physics," Caleb responded, "but in a controlled, fictional, nonexistent environment. You don't have to worry."

Am I relieved?

Monday, November 30, 2015

Feminism Thoughts

Obviously I think about feminism often.

I think it's because there is so much pressure from the media and society (especially educated men, weirdly) to be feminist, and I'm just not inclined to join, so I'm constantly trying to figure out why I am so--I can't think of the word; offended but not that and disgusted but not that and opposed but not that but somewhere in between--by it. It's presented as a good thing. How can you be against something that is supposed to help women?

I think that part of it is that it's "supposed" to help women but spends a lot of time and resources proving why my choices (which I made freely and with full knowledge of what I was choosing) are "wrong" and "bad for women." (They never will believe that I wanted to study the humanities because it gives me great joy--not because I was socially pressured into it. In fact, the social pressure was to accept the mechanical engineering department's courting of me into their program, or study chemistry or something equally science-y because I'm good at science and I enjoy science. But studying the humanities was fun and easy, and that's what I wanted to do.)

Anyway, I was reading an article in the newspaper about Utah having the largest "wage gap" in the country, but the article was highly misleading because they were comparing not a woman in one industry with a man in the same industry, but apparently ALL women in Utah (including the stay-at-home moms) with ALL the men in Utah.  Total amount made by females divided by number of women in Utah compared to total amount made by males divided by number of men in Utah = simple math but not true comparison. Of course if 78% of men are working full time and only 49% of women are working full time, you're going to see a wage gap using that math because there are fewer women adding to the total amount made.

They did acknowledge that women are drawn to caring professions and men to mechanical professions, and that mechanical professions pay more. But they falsely attributed that to women being told from a young age to consider only those professions instead of respecting women's ability to follow their hearts and talents. (How many women do you know who actually WANT to wok construction jobs?  Can't we respect that as a reality instead of a cultural manipulation of women?  Wouldn't it be better to ask why we value the caring jobs less monetarily?) (you can read the article here:

Really, it would help in the evaluation of women's earnings if people would back off and respect women's right to want to stay home and raise children and recognize the immense value that choice has to society. Why are they constantly belittling women who want to stay home? Why constantly push them toward the workplace?

(It should be noted, of course, that friends tell me that women who work feel equally attacked and belittled for not staying home, even outside of Utah. You just can't win, I guess. And this is something the feminists should be addressing, instead of adding to the problem.)

The comparison that needs to happen is within a single industry. That would give us more information about the wage gap, if there is one. Does a female grocery store clerk with the same amount of experience as a male grocery store clerk in the same store get paid the same amount? That's the statistic that is significant.

At least the article is acknowledging that part of the problem is women take time off to raise kids and therefore have less experience than men of the same age. And that's a thorny issue because it's not fair to the men to just pay the women more for less experience. But the end result is fewer women in management, and that looks bad.

Similar to the wage gap issue being a lot more subtle if you have valid statistics and look at the whole picture instead of over simplifying, recently scientists determined that there are few if any differences between male and female brains, and the scientists and feminists made that out to prove that men and women are identical except for a few inconsequential physical differences, so all the differences between men and women are actually cultural and should be stamped out.

That's a big conclusion from a small study. For one thing, people are made up of more than their brains. Male and female hormones, for example, are vastly different and have an enormous impact on how people think and feel and act. And those don't show up in a comparative brain scan. And science completely ignores the influence of the spirit, which they can't acknowledge exists but might have an enormous impact on a person. But we don't know because we know very, very little about the true nature of spirits, especially since our bodies limit them and limit our ability to perceive and understand things as they really are in the eternal world.

Looking at the world and interacting with babies will tell scientists more about the nature of men and women than a simple brain scan comparison. Considering how little we understand of how the brain works at all, saying the structure looks similar means very little anyway.  The study even acknowledged they were not looking at how the brains worked, only how they looked. Similar things can work in very different ways (listen to a male voice vs a female voice, for example).  Also, small difference in appearance can be massive in function or output. Think how much difference a pinch of salt can make to a dish. Or how different "nine" is from "none."  It's just a letter different, but it will change the output significantly. I guess what I'm saying is it's a mistake to attack all women as inferior based on one study that is very limited, just like it's a mistake to include stay-at-home moms (who earn zero) in an analysis of the wage gap.  (The brain study was reported on here: --note that the scientist at the end also is saying what I'm saying here: similar is not the same as equivalent)

So, two things I was particularly thinking about women in work lately.

One: there is a lot of "advice" from feminists about how women should succeed in work. Much of it is based on the idea that women and men are functionally equivalent and only differ in behaviors that were imposed on them by society. This drives me crazy because what they are saying is that women are simply inferior men and if they would just do things men's way, they would be less inferior and more successful.

Why are they assuming the men's way of doing things is superior? Why not assume the women's is? Or there is an in between way that is better than both? And why pressure the women to change instead of educating the men's culture about listening and how to "hear and see" women?

This is one of the big reasons I can't get behind feminism. They can't see women as women, but merely as inferior men who, if taught, will be less inferior or maybe even equal. But we don't become equal by becoming less female! If we don't value women, instead of changing women into something we do value, let's change what we value instead. In other words, why are the women trying to to adapt and change in order to be accepted by men who have prejudices? Why not ask the men to heal their wrong views?

Ironic that feminists are trying to solve problems by using the exact same techniques, thought processes, and behaviors the same feminists decry when being used by an abused wife. Instead of insisting the husband stop being abusive, the wife works her tail off to make herself somehow acceptable to his insanity. Hint for the feminists: You can never work hard enough to satisfy an abuser. They will always abuse because it's not really about you.

Two: It is important to realize where the wage gap came from. Way back when, it was socially acceptable to pay men more than women for the same work in the same industry. Why? The men were assumed to be supporting a family and the women were assumed to be single and supporting only themselves.  Why the assumption? It was, generally speaking, true. The exceptions were few and far between (and culturally invisible, to a great extent).

You can look at it this way: What was going on was the men were getting paid for their work AND getting a stipend for their wives' work in staying home raising the children. Women were, essentially, getting paid, through their husbands' employer, to do the immensely vital work of raising good citizens in an intact family.

The problem with it is on a very basic level: it's fundamentally unfair for a woman to deliver ten pizzas for $15  and a man to deliver ten pizzas for $20. Same work. Same duties. Same skills. Same amount of education. And really, the assumptions just didn't hold up. Not all men were supporting families, but they still got paid more. And not all women were single without children, and they still got paid less. And even if the assumptions were true, if you are getting paid to do a job for someone, there isn't a way to twist it that makes it okay to pay different people different amounts for the same job.

So I'm not in favor of keeping the wage gap by any stretch. But it came from a different, woman-friendly and family-friendly place. It was not "pure discrimination" and it would benefit society immensely if people valued the idea that it was best for men to stay with their families and for women to be free to focus on raising their children (whether they have an additional job or not). And one way we show we value things (the main way, it seems) is through money.  The wage gap was and is completely unfair, but it seems it could have been an attempt to support strong family structure and keep families (and therefore society) stable.

Unfortunately, any attempt to keep families strong and stable is seen as an attack on women any more.  Staying home is not a choice, in their minds, but a prison. Raising children is not a choice, but an abusive obligation that women need to let go of.

As long as feminism denies the nature of women and treats motherhood and raising children as abusive (even while giving lip service to the idea that women get to choose what they want their lives to look like--but if you want to be happy it will look like a man's life, they insist. Their way or no way because any other way is a social manipulation that you didn't choose freely), I can't buy in. Wouldn't it be better to draw the men home more instead of pulling the women out into the workplace more? I do not understand why feminism is blind to what women are and refuses to respect what so many women want.

Who defined your net worth to the world in purely monetary terms? Who decided that success looks like lots of cash and few obligations except to yourself?  Who decided that hedonism is the key to happiness?

As long as that is the definition of success, happiness, and value, I don't want any part of feminism.

Did I just read that?

"Only children are actually totally normal, according to science"

The rest of us--teens and adults--are totally messed up. (Does that mean refusal to go to bed and temper tantrums and hyper-picky eating are normal?)

(The article is about children with no siblings....)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Funny kids: Jack says....

The kids are frequently telling me they enjoy reading about what they were like when they were littler--here on the blog. And I realized I have drifted from that some. Those things sometimes end up in my journal and sometimes on Facebook, but really the kids themselves can't go back and reminisce either of those places.

So funny kids is back. For the moment. Until I forget again.


A few days ago Jack informed me that he had an owie on his "fronthead."  "Forehead," I corrected him, looking at what he was touching.

A few days later, he told me the owie was still there on his "Fivehead."

He kinda got it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Please no more!

I keep running across sensationalized stories (told by FB friends, in the media, etc) of babies and toddlers being tortured to death. Always, the stories are told in graphic detail.

Please, please no more.

I can't take any more.

It's making me physically sick and giving me nightmares and anxiety attacks. I don't need my head filled with the graphic details of how an evil person tortured a baby.

Let's not torture babies at all.

And let's have some decency and not share all the graphic, explicit details.

I can't take any more.

I know the point is to disgust people enough to move them to action, but it seems like this approach is either feeding disgusting voyeuristic tendencies or driving us all into our caves to hide behind our hands and cry.

What good does the manufactured outrage do if I refuse to read the articles because the last one was so distressing? There is no outrage if the coverage of the topic is so disgusting that good people refuse to read. (And that is no favor to the victims).

The media used to quote cops saying, "It's one of the worst cases I've seen," but now they just spill every gruesome detail. Has our society descended so low that we love that kind of thing? Are we not seeing these innocents as suffering humans but instead seeing their gruesome deaths as entertainment?

Just please. No more.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Core Issue

There are still many, many angry and hurt people out there arguing against the church.

I move on and then stumble upon yet another article.

Two things I think are important to keep in mind:

Almost every single article I've read from someone who is decrying the church can be traced in one way or another back to John Dehlin. It appears he is single-handedly trying to destroy the church, and it is important for people to realize this is a manufactured "crisis" from a self-proclaimed religious leader who was censured recently. It appears he is trying to get revenge, single-handedly trying to destroy the church. I'm sure he thinks he's succeeding.

Whether it is even possible to succeed depends on the second thing.

That is, the entire debate actually boils down to NOT what Dehlin is saying ("The LDS Church is a bully"--that's what he wants you to think the issue is).  The entire debate boils down to who do you believe is actually in charge of the LDS Church.

If you believe the church is run by God with the understanding that He uses imperfect people to do His work, but He is still very much in charge, that completely determines your reaction to any statement, policy change, rule, or doctrine. Your perception of God becomes significant in determining your reaction. My personal understanding of God as someone who loves us deeply leads me to always ask, when something perplexes me, "Could this be God's way of showing love to us? If I try to see from God's perspective, would I see this as loving? I trust that it's loving and will ultimately make people happy eternally even if I don't understand."

If you believe the church is run by a team of men with minimal involvement from God, then you see power-brokering, control, corporate resistance to change, big-company money, etc. You see men who are trying at all costs to try to maintain control without letting people in on it, so they will keep following. You see compulsion and manipulation in everything they do.  Perplexingly, if this is what the Mormon Church is, then it is exactly what other churches supposedly are, too, so I don't see why people who dislike how the men of Mormondom run things don't just go someplace where they like how the leaders run things.

Of course, there is more subtlety to the way it's discussed, with varying degrees of God being involved. But ultimately the question boils down to that one question: WHO is actually in charge? God or Men?

Watching all these debates play out, D&C 121 comes to mind frequently.  Here are verses 33-46:

"How long can rolling waters remain impure? What power shall stay the heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.

"Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.

"That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man. Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.

"We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen.

"No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.

"Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven. The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever."

This is an interesting analysis of the subject. One thing I find particularly interesting is that the righteous leaders do not need to exercise power or maintain power or exercise control in order to stay in charge. This is directly related to what the discontent are saying: They are accusing the brethren of exercising unrighteous dominion, trying to manipulate people into staying and force them to remain subservient (and tithe-payers).  The reality is that, for a righteous leader, the people follow without compulsory means. They don't have to be manipulated or controlled.

How you answer the question "Who is in charge" determines how you see what is going on, whether you are following willingly or you feel you are being compelled.

Did I just read that?

Blog post from June 2011:

From Boulder Craigslist today: "Free Stuff!!! Kids trucks, Gazelle, Patio furniture, freezer, toddler - (Lyons) pic"

As if Gazelle wasn't surprising enough--toddler?

Follow up on Choir or Not?

From Sept 2011

It has been suggested that individual amplification is a boundary line for whether something is a choir or not. I actually think this is a good general litmus test.

However, it takes but 2 seconds on YouTube to find examples that break the rule:

Definitely a choir, and every member has individual amplification (due to the nature of the venue and the fact that they were filming, so they needed pristine sound).

and this is definitely an acappella group, but singing completely unamplified:

Obviously the rule must be "I know it when I hear it."

Did I just read that?

Old blog post, from February 2012:

The teaser under the top headline on right now: "Despite 2008 Supreme Court decision ensuring DC residents can own guns, some say getting one is 'expensive' and 'very difficult,' but local councilman counters that capital has a higher public safety burden."

MONEY has a higher public safety burden. Of course.

The error is repeated in the article: ""This is the nation's capital, and we have a higher public safety burden than any other city in this country," Mendelson said."

I think Washington must have an inflated sense of their own value. That city is the capital for all the rest of us? I want to cash out, thanks.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Cleaning up blogger

I discovered (to my horror) that I wrote 62 blog posts that ended up in "drafts" instead of published.

That's a lot.

Some are not finished but were written in 2009 so I have no idea what I was planning to say.

So over the next few days I'll publish the ones that warrant publishing, but keep in mind that they're old.

Sorry about that.

(I deleted more than half, so you only get spammed with 30 of them....)
A blog post I found from 4/30/2010 that for some reason I never published.  I'm so glad Tim has put family before career all these years:


Hi Mister Tim,

I'm a casting producer for NBC's The Marriage Ref produced by Jerry Seinfeld. I saw your video for Enter Sandman on kazoo and I couldn't resist shooting you an email. Any chance you're married and kazooing drives your wife nuts? Just had to ask. Would love to put you in touch with the casting producers if you are married!!

Theresa Horwitz
Shed Media

Tim replied:

Hi, Theresa!

I am married, but my wife adores the kazoo. We are also not really interested in the reality TV thing if it involves showing my family (we have five kids, and have been through the contract stages for AGT and The Sing-Off; we know the huge family story would make for great TV, but we're not interested).

If there's a way to get me on TV doing music, not involving the family, I'm interested!

Thanks for the email!

Where do they get these questions?

I wrote this in 2007. I don't know why it didn't publish then:

"Raising kids, I get more difficult questions than ever I answered in college.

Today, Dan asked, "Mom, do monkeys have fingernails?"

Um....I think so. I'll have to look up monkey pictures online to be sure."

SO excited about this--can't not share it.

Wrote this in 2010. I don't know why it went to drafts instead of publishing then:

This is the coolest site on the web.  Seriously.

You can now walk 17 of the world's greatest art museums virtually. Zoom in on paintings. Make comments.

You can even make a personal art collection that you can share with others.

Incredible. I love this place.


I was just following an interesting discussion on FB that has been deleted, so I can't even catch a screenshot of it.

Someone asked the LDS Homeschoolers (national) facebook group (think: stay at home moms with multiple children who are devout in their faith) a simple question: What do you do for fasting when you are pregnant or nursing?

The ensuing comments were really fascinating to me. They revealed so much--about what people think "fasting" means.

Officially, the church defines fasting as refraining from food and drink, and they ask us to fast for "two meals" once a month and use the money we would have spent on food for those meals to donate to the poor.

Many of the women in the group came down hard (which is why I think the post got deleted) in saying, "NO. You should never fast when pregnant or nursing."  First of all, that violated the first rule of civil discourse for women's groups on social media: Use the word "I" and discuss your own personal experience rather than insist on your answer being the law.  So it was kinda weird to see how many women don't get that. Secondly, it was a reflection of official advice from the church: women who are pregnant or nursing are not expected to fast.

Other women talked about fasting from everything but the bare minimum to stay alive.

Others (including me) talked about changing the amount of time you expect to fast to something healthy for the baby.

I saw, underpinning each of the comments, an interesting thing.  Many people in the church have bought into a cultural impression that "2 meals means 24 hours" (which it doesn't unless you eat in one particular way--only at meals that are always at set times with no snacks ever) and that "fasting" means the monthly fast of "Fast Sunday" and nothing else.

It is so fascinating to me because to me, fasting is a choice you make to abstain from food and drink for a period of time as a way of petitioning Heavenly Father for something. I don't know why it works, but it does.  I think it works to abstain from other things, too, and I find prayer an integral part of the experience. (I always combine fasting and prayer or else I find myself wondering what the difference is between going to church and forgetting breakfast in the chaos of dressing everyone and going to church fasting. I, personally, need the prayer to distinguish fasting from just being hungry.)

Anyway, the different views made a true discussion almost impossible because we were all talking about different things. (Note: this is why at the beginning of any lesson I teach, I define the terms we are talking about. I always start with the question, "What is ______?" so that we all know we're on the same page, or at least are aware of each other's interpretations of the topic.)

Here is why I don't subscribe to the "fasting means 24 hours without food or drink on Fast Sunday" interpretation of the "law of the fast": it is inflexible.

Generally speaking, I find the gospel and the church to be incredibly, unbelievable flexible. Miraculously so, actually. The principles can be applied in any life, despite handicaps and hiccups. The general rules are taught, and the application of them is left up to you.

So, for example, the teaching to fast "for two meals."  For those of us with energy production disorders (like fibro or chronic fatigue) or food-related disorder (like diabetes or hypoglycemia), two meals can mean something vastly different than it does for the average, non-disordered human. When I was on my mission and tried to fast for 12 hours (not even the full 24, as I actually cannot fall asleep--at all--without having just eaten before getting in bed (or even in bed). Apparently that's common for people with fibro) I discovered that I would become not just "hangry" (hungry+angry) but downright cruelly abusive to the people around me. My poor companions. I had to stop trying to fast by other people's rules because that was leading me toward sin, not away from it.  It didn't take me long to realize, though, that I could still fast from 2 meals: I was eating every 2 hours, so I could fast for 4 hours, eat at the end of church, and still get the benefits of fasting.

That's the beauty of the way God has set things up: they work for all of us. The blessings of living the gospel, like the blessings of fasting, are not denied to people because of their disabilities.

(I know you're saying, "But some people never get to get married, and some never get to have babies..."  True. True.  I'm not talking about all blessings that exist, but the blessings of obedience and the blessings of living the gospel, which are different than the idea that each person gets all the good things in existence.  That's not true no matter how we splice it.)

Can pregnant and nursing women fast for 2 full meals according to the traditional meal schedule?  No. It's not healthy for them or baby.

Can they still fast and get the blessings of it?


You just have to remember that the church-wide fast is different from "fasting" as a principle.

You can fast, using the principle, any time for however long you want for any purpose you desire. That means a pregnant woman can fast for 20 minutes if she wants.  Or five. God understands our limitations and what constitutes an actual fast within our own limits.

You can also fast from a particular thing. If you can't go without food and water, perhaps you can fast from all but certain types of simple foods. Or fast from all electronic media, including your cell phone. Or fast from something else that is important to you. That works for a lot of people I know (fasting from everything except bread and water, for example). In Arizona summers, missionaries are not allowed to fast from water. It's too dangerous.

In other words, the real world application of the gospel is flexible and God is okay with that.

You can also participate in the church-wide fast by following the guidelines (notice that they aren't rules--it's not an all-or-nothing proposition on this one):  Fast for 2 meals and donate to the poor. And if 2 meals for you is one hour, that's fine. And if all you can donate is a few cents, go for it. You participated.

And if you can't participate or don't want to or forgot (how many times have I forgotten? Many), there is no punishment for that.

Can a pregnant woman safely fast for 24 hours? No. But I do think it's a shame to tell a pregnant woman, "You can never fast" because what if she is in particular need of something? What if her husband is sick? What if she needs revelation and thinks fasting will help? I have noticed fasting has immense power in my life, and to deny me that for 15 years straight (that's how long I have been pregnant or nursing straight through so far) because of some arbitrary interpretations and rules that have been imposed socially would be a great tragedy.

So the whole discussion left me pondering, again, how bizarre it is that we seem to feel compelled to impose our "version" of righteousness on everyone around us, like a 5 year old tries to force his siblings to obey the rules the way he says to (all my 5 year olds have done this). It's like trying to say "Chocolate is against the Word of Wisdom because it has caffeine in it and caffeine is against the Word of Wisdom" (no, I didn't make that up.)  That might be true for one family, who finds that the Spirit tells them to abstain from chocolate. It's not true for all of us.

It's so fascinating that for people for whom the "rules" have always worked, the idea that anyone would need to bend them is unfathomable.  It's easy to say, "All my way or nothing at all" when you've never been pregnant and needed to fast for someone you love.  It's easy to say, "Never drink caffeine ever" if you've never had a migraine. And, sadly, it's easy to condemn people who don't follow "the rules" the exact way we do.

Is it important to be obedient? Vitally so. But it's also important to notice who we are being obedient to: societal expectations? Or God?

In some ways, it seems, we are all inclined to be like the Pharisees.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I find this amusing

A bunch of people just resigned from a church that they say is not true and is hurtful and damaging. Why did they resign? Because the church didn't let small children join...

This makes no sense.

Friday, November 13, 2015

A beautifully confusing doctrine

A sister who I never knew but who served with my mission president popped up in my facebook feed today.

She was participating in the new fad: Saying "I am a member in good standing and I believe in the church with all my heart, but I have to make a public statement that the church is actually wrong when society says they are."  They always use the phrase "stand with" in the statement (as in "I cannot stand with the church on this issue"). I assume you've seen one. I only recognized it today as a viral behavior--a fad.

Aside from pointing out how odd it is that it has become faddish to publicly express apostasy rather than privately turn to God for understanding when something doesn't make sense, I thought a phrase she used was interesting.

She quoted my mission president (who I loved and who helped me through some very difficult things) in saying that God will never make us eternally unhappy. And so, she concluded, the Church will change that policy about gay marriage and she'll just wait it out until they do.

The problem with that interpretation of what Pres. Bates said is two-fold.

First, it doesn't say that God will never make us unhappy in this life except temporarily, and if we wait He will fix it. In fact, God does leave us in unhappy circumstances for a long time in this life. Some people (many people, in fact), are left in unhappy circumstances for their entire lives. God is in the eternally happy business, not the happy every second of my life business. As far as I can tell, eternally happy is created by earthly unhappiness. That's how we grow.

Second, that interpretation assumes that we know what will make us happy eternally. But, given that we don't understand our own nature as gods in embryo, and given that we are actually not capable of understand eternity, how could we possibly determine what will make us happy there? I can't count  the number of things that I thought would make me happy and I didn't get and then later was so glad that God denied them to me.  Obviously I can't even determine what will make me happy next week--how could I determine what will make me happy eternally?

I believe the right approach to the idea that God will never make you unhappy eternally is to assume that God knows more than you do, and God wants even more than you for you to be happy, and He knows who you really are, and His ideas about what will make you happy eternally should always, always trump yours.

Which means, as unpopular as it is to say, that even the rules that are socially unacceptable (like no sex outside of marriage) are designed to make us happy if we have the faith to obey even when it makes no sense. The key is that we have to obey even if it makes no sense, and even if the entire world comes down to say that it's wrong.  Even if that means we don't get to have sex ever, for our entire lives. We have to trust God more than we trust ourselves or our understanding.

And that absolutely necessitates that you first figure out who has authority to speak for God, how those messages come, and what obedience looks like. Who can we trust? Who brings us the word of God? And if they bring us the word and we don't like what we hear, what do we do about it?

And yes, the sister was right: we do have to wait, often. Wait for rescue, wait for help, wait for understanding, wait for the eternities.

Good thing praying for understanding and praying for patience are some of the most useful things I've ever learned to do.  Also, I've found it extremely beneficial to pray that if there is something I'm pretty sure I know for sure that isn't actually true, could God help me understand what the truth is instead?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Two bits on an issue I wish wasn't an issue

Okay, so I've tried to avoid writing on this issue because it's being yelled everywhere, and nobody is listening or agreeing or able to see eye to eye. But here I am writing. And I'm going to try really hard not to tell you what is the "right" answer here, although you'll probably know what I think by the time I'm done writing.

The church recently updated the handbook for bishops, and the information was made public on purpose to discredit the church and drive people away. I'm sure many people have heard this already. The updates include instructions that children in gay-marriage households cannot be baptized until they are "of age" (commonly believed to mean 18 yo in America) and agree to the church's doctrines on gay marriage. Also, participating in gay marriage is now defined as apostasy and automatically triggers church disciplinary hearings. (This decision takes the discretion out of the hands of bishops dealing with the issue and creates a unified response to it church-wide, Elder Christofferson explained.)

Cue uproar, engineered by men who openly are trying to distress people and discredit the church.

And yeah, it sounds mean at first glance.

The confusion and unhappiness were so instant and so widespread among my generation of church members that our Stake Conference adult session was about this issue, to a great extent.

I have many, many friends and family members who are confused and angry and hurt. "How can they do that to kids?" is what they're asking. "How can they punish kids for their parents' sins? How can they make this supposed sin more firmly dealt with than other sins? How are stable gay parents' children being judged when drug addict and pedophile parents' kids aren't? How can they make kids denounce their parents?" Lots of questions, many rooted in a knee-jerk reaction that doesn't seem, at first glance, to be founded in the reality of the situation or careful thought.

But I've found that many of my friends are living in this knee-jerk reaction, roiling it around and around in their brains without asking two very pertinent questions:

1. Given the church's doctrines about marriage, family, and homosexuality, what is the kindest, most respectful, most supportive and compassionate way to treat children in families founded in a gay marriage?


2. Is the issue that's bugging me the kids thing, or is really that the church has gone ahead and made a definitive statement that living in a gay marriage is apostasy?  

For many of my friends, they think they're upset about the kids not getting to be baptized, but when you listen to them talk for any length of time at all, it becomes very clear that what they are actually upset about is that the church has defined participating in gay marriage as apostasy, not that kids are not being allowed to join a church that preaches against their family structure. 

Why is this so horrifying to them, especially since the church has considered homosexual behavior a sin for as long as any of us can remember? I think it comes from three places.

The first is that many people know a gay couple now, and they know their friends are actually not freaks or weirdos or scary or evil. They're nice people. How could such nice people be labeled sinners? They're nice. They're loving. They're good friends. They are devoted spouses. We love them. Obviously they're good people. So it becomes very uncomfortable to even hint that they might be sinning--especially a sin like apostasy. How could such nice people be apostate? 

The second is our entire culture, including many Mormons, had concluded that the church was "coming around" to agree with society, and that now that gay marriage is legal, it is acceptable in all realms or would be very soon. It seems as though people had concluded that sex outside marriage is wrong, so sex inside marriage--any marriage--is right, and therefore gay marriage is no sin because the sex is all inside a legal marriage. And, furthermore, people seemed to think the Church as an institution was moving in that direction and pretty soon gay marriages would even be taking place inside the temple, once the church leaders understood how much gay couples love each other and what nice people they are. With that belief, or even a hint of it, firmly tucked into people's minds, it came as quite a shock that the church would come down and say that participating in gay marriage is apostasy. You mean they aren't actually coming around? How could that be? Our culture, science, and our laws say this is okay, so how could anyone go against that?

The third thing that is influencing this reaction seems to be that people don't know what apostasy actually means. When they think of apostasy, they think of people who have done horrible things and been kicked out of the church--people who are scary to associate with. Apostates are those awful people who believe ______ thing that we find offensive, right?

There's a big part of the problem. Apostasy isn't this horrible, heinous crime committed by evil people who want to destroy the church.  Apostasy is defection. It's leaving. It's not agreeing with the doctrine of the church and choosing to go another direction. 

"Apostasy (/əˈpɒstəsi/; Greek: ἀποστασία (apostasia), "a defection or revolt") is the formal disaffiliation from, or abandonment or renunciation of a religion by a person. It can also be defined within the broader context of embracing an opinion contrary to one's previous beliefs."

So the church has made it clear that in their eyes, the action of participating in a gay marriage is, itself, a clear abandonment of the church's doctrines. It is an apostasy, by the very definition of apostasy above, because it is an action that proves a person does not believe what the church teaches about marriage, which is central to church beliefs. THIS is what has upset many of my friends, although they don't seem to realize that. It's as if legal and socially acceptable came to = okay with me and therefore okay with God, and this change in the handbook has gone against that.

Interestingly, many of my friends who are upset about this actually abandoned the church and many of its teachings years ago. They don't go to church. They disagree with many of the doctrines. They speak out often about how wrong the church is about so many things. But they don't want to be labeled apostate because it's a loaded word with all kinds of cultural connotations. But if we go by the strict definition of apostasy, they or their friends are already there. It just hasn't been formalized. 

Others of my friends are hurting and sad because they have loved ones and close friends who are gay and in steady relationships or marriages, and they can't reconcile their knowledge of how wonderful their loved ones are with the idea that their relationships are being labeled sinful. I have no idea what is actually going through their minds, but they seem to be upset that even if their loved ones get married (the former "cure" for illicit relationships in the church), the relationships will still be considered sinful, even if they make the loved ones happy and are the best thing that has happened to them in a long time.

Others are upset because the policy is already being misapplied, with things like children who live with straight parents but have gay parents (in a divorce situation) that they don't even live with being denied baptism. Or straight married faithful mormons being told if they speak to their gay parents ever again or let them see their grandchildren, they'll be excommunicated.  That's just wrong, and it needs to be clarified and corrected.

The thing my friends seem to be upset about is the idea that the church is calling people they love sinners. And that's is hard for them to swallow. It's very sticky--how do they say that something that has given joy and stability to their loved ones is wrong? How could they possibly ask them to abandon that for a life of loneliness? And yet, if it's a sin, how can they not encourage them to repent? How can they go hurt their friends by saying the friend's love--or marriage!--is actually sinful? And yet, if it is....

You see the problem? It's very difficult. People really really don't want homosexual behavior to be a sin. They want it to be a healthy lifestyle choice that brings happiness. They want God to be okay with whatever we choose on that. And the church said He's not. Or at least that they aren't.  And so people are confused and hurting and wondering where to go from here.

Part of the issue, too, is how you see baptism. I'm not going to go into detail here, but people who see baptism as a sacred covenant to behave certain ways are responding to this differently from people who see baptism as a cultural rite of passage and a social construct.

And do I have an answer for that? No. No solutions except turn to Christ for comfort and pray for answers because I haven't got any for you other than that. I can't even tell you what you should believe--but I do believe that God will do that for you if you ask Him. He promises to give liberally and upbraid not, as the scripture says.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

"Doctrines" I hear that hurt when you're suffering anyway

So often when I am suffering I see people and hear people sharing "doctrines" that are supposed to help, but actually make things worse. They are false doctrines that we use to soothe our own souls (not really those who are suffering), to make sense of someone else having to suffer, and to relieve us of responsibility to do something about it.

Some examples:

"Everything happens for a reason."  Every time I hear this I think about child abuse. Yes--that abuse happened for a reason. The reason was there are wicked people in the world. It is not true that everything is set up and controlled by God, or else God is a monster and there is no agency. But there is agency and humans are the monsters. And some things just happen, not controlled nor set up by God.

"You won't be tested above that which you can bear."  Yes, you will. Else why would you need Jesus? The point is not that we can do it ourselves, but that we can't.  This, I think, is a corruption of this scripture, Alma 13:28-29: "But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble,meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering; Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest."  Praying continually that you not be temped above that which we can bear is a far cry from a promise that we'll never be tested too hard.  In fact, we do get tested to the breaking point and beyond, and I think that's not by accident.

"Everything works together for your good." This one, like the others, is a corruption of actual scripture. The phrase appears repeatedly in scripture, but always as part of a sentence, not a whole sentence. For example, Romans 8:28: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." And D&C 100:15: "Therefore, let your hearts be comforted; for all things shall work together for good to them that walk uprightly, and to the sanctification of the church." And D&C 90:24: "Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another."  Clearly it's not a blanket promise the way we sling it around: Don't worry, keep sinning, and everything will work out for your good.  Not so. The promise includes some serious devotion to God on our parts to be applicable.

"If you pay your tithing, God will bless you financially."  This, of course, is actually part of the old erroneous belief that you can tell how righteous a person is (or isn't) by their money because God's blessings come in coins and bills. If this were true, then Jesus was the sinningest of sinners--he was homeless, after all.  The reality is that God does promise us a blessing for paying tithing, but He doesn't specify what that blessing is. (Malachi 3:10 says, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.") Might be money. It might be love, or great ideas, or health, or patience to get through trials. Paying tithing is not a way of manipulating God into making us rich.

"If you come to God with full purpose of heart and repent, he will take your trials away from you." Like tithing is not a way to manipulate God into doing things your way, repentance is not a way of manipulating God into giving you what you want. We are commanded to repent, but as far as I can tell, the results of our obedience are in God's hands, not ours. We can petition Him for blessings we want, but we don't get to make deals with God that if I do _____, you'll do _____. We just have to learn to trust Him anyway, and that's hard when we have no control. If you say this to people, though, they think they are to blame for their trials ("You just aren't repentant enough or you'd get pregnant; you don't have a baby because you are a sinner") or that God is a liar ("I repented and my baby still died.") or that there is cause-and-effect where there is none ("If I repent, my infertility will be cured.")

Ultimately, all of these things we say are really hurtful and, instead of increasing faith (which is what the speaker is intending), they damage people's faith because they aren't true and can't hold up to logic, reason, faith, or the pain of trials.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Things I didn't consider

I always wanted a lot of kids, but now that we have 8, I'm finding there are things that I didn't consider that are tricky or surprising about having a lot of kids.

For example, I didn't think about:

-having to wrangle 8 Halloween costumes, all of which have to go on in the same hour on Halloween

-how many socks, shirts, pants, underthings, etc. 10 people wear in one day, or have to own all together. (Once a friend suggested we might simplify things by having fewer clothes. So I started doing some math: if I limited each person to only owning 5 shirts and 3 pairs of pants, that's 80 items of clothing not counting socks or underwear or specialty things like swimsuits. And everyone seems to agree that nobody can live with just 5 shirts and 3 pairs of pants.)

-the fact that my dishwasher actually can't hold all the dishes it takes just to feed (not even to cook for) 10 people a single dinner

-how much it costs to get one person a decent, simple Christmas. Times ten.

-fitting people around a normal table in a normal dining room (normal tables and dining rooms are not designed for dinner parties)

-that everywhere we go, we'd be our own parade

-shoes. SO. Many. Shoes. (and none match when you're in a hurry)

-how long it takes to put 8 people to bed, and how shocking it can be when, an hour later, six people show up in the kitchen insisting they can't sleep without a snack--and that's when some stay in bed. (Is there a bedtime equivalent of elevensies?)

-preparing 8 math lessons every single day. Or even just finding places to put 8 different math books.

and so much more....

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Fixing cars

Our little car is working again. Van not so much, but we mostly can get around okay with just the little one, provided we don't all have to go somewhere at once. (Good thing we can walk to church!)

Apparently we've been fixing cars too much.

Tonight, Jack asked us to take him to King Soopers so he could drive the car cart around the store. So we took him over and he drove while we did a little bit of shopping.

Then he insisted we stop. He climbed out and said, "It has a leak."  He lay down on the floor and peered under the car cart.  "It's a battery leak," he said solemnly.

Then he lay down on his back and tried to slide under the car cart to fix it. He banged his head. "I don't fit!" he said in surprise, and hopped up.

I finally showed him how to hit it to make it go (like you do with old TVs, right?). So he settled on fixing it that way and climbed back in to keep driving, after a swift kick for good measure.

Alas, even the 2 year old has figured out that part of the deal (for us anyway) is that we drive a bit and then the darn thing breaks down and you have to go slide underneath on your back to fix it.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Did I just read that?

“I think it has to have something to do [with] the pain underlying it,” both physical and psychic, he said. “That is the age when people have their midlife crisis . . . I think it has to do with that stage of life, and physical ailments do start to accumulate at that age."

Psychic pain...interesting. I guess seeing the future is painful.

(I believe the word he was looking for was "psychological." Technically psychic is appropriate in this sentence, but psychological would have been more clear.)

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Did I just read that?

"And men are more comfortable being touched by a woman than by another man. But then, men feel more comfortable being touched by strangers than by women. " (

Where is the sense in this?

Developmental Stages The Doctors Forget to Tell You About

We've noticed, now that we've had 8 kids, that there are developmental stages kids go through that nobody ever talks about.

Some stages we've noticed and roughly the age our kids hit that stage:

The "I did not give you permission to sit down, adult, and so I will wail" stage: 3-4 months
The "I must nurse right when everyone else wants to sit down for dinner" stage: 4 months
The "I must nurse right when we're supposed to walk out the door, even if I just ate 10 minutes ago" stage: 4 months
The "I'm bored and can see what everyone else can do, and my brain is ready but my body isn't" stage: 5 months
The "let me help you cook/lean toward the hot stove while you're trying to hold me while you make dinner" stage: 6 months
The "Just kidding! I don't sleep through the night any more!" stage: 6 months
The "rip your lips and nose off with my sharp claws" stage: 7-8 months
The "tries to turn head while nursing without letting go" stage: 8-9 months
The "flop around on the bed" stage: 8-9 months
The "Oh, look! It's Daddy--he'll hold me! Oh, Mommy--you hold me! Oh, look! It's Daddy--he'll hold me" passing-the-baby-back-and-forth-at-his-request stage: 7-8 months
The "Scratch and hit the wall for no reason" stage: 9-10 months
The "I'll feed You" stage: 9 months
The "oh, wait, I can actually lick stuff off my fingers?" stage: 9 months
The "I must watch the potty flush" stage: 9 months
The "nod with my whole body" stage: 9-10 months
The "I refuse to sleep in a crib any longer. I will not sleep unless you are holding me, even if I have slept alone my whole life" stage: 9-10 months
The "crawl in a room alone and close the door and sit in such a way that you can't get it open without hurting me and then wail because I'm stuck and you won't help me" stage: 10 months
The "crying real tears because my feelings are hurt" stage: 10 months
The "help you by unloading the dirty dishwasher onto the floor" stage: 10 months
The "I can do peekaboo by myself" stage: 8-10 months
The "hold me here by the light switch so I can turn it on and off and on and off by myself" stage: 11-12 months
The "I'll wave bye-bye to you, stranger who said bye bye to me, but only three or four minutes later after we've walked away and I can't see you anymore" stage: 10  months
The first "I say super cute things" stage: 1 year
The "I like to put things in and take things out" stage: 1 year
The "I want to stand on a chair and play in the sink" stage: 18 months-2 years
The "I can't sleep when you want me to, but I'll fall dead asleep on the kitchen floor at the strangest times" stage: 1-2 years
The "I love micro-short little nearly-plotless stories about me playing with toys or a puppy" stage: 18 months-2 years
The "I can do the actions to songs myself" stage: 1-2 years
The "line up toys in long straight lines" stage: 2 years
The "mommy is six years old and brother is eight and I am seven" stage: 2 years
The "wow. YouTube." stage: 2 years
The "hey, I can tell a joke and tease" stage: 2 years
The "hand soap on the mirror--I was cleaning it!" stage: 2-3 years
The "Love to play Pease Porridge Hot with Daddy" stage: 3 years
The "I will not answer to my name; you must call me ____" stage: 3 years
The second "I say super cute things" stage: 3 years
The "are mom and dad brother and sister?" and "what do you mean Grandma is Dad's mom?" stage: 3 years
The "I can anticipate where you are going so I'll stand right where you are trying to end up" stage: 3 years
The "making potions for hours" stage: 3-4 years
The "can I PLEASE go on the roof?" stage: 3-4 years
The "I refuse to go to bed" stage: 4 years
The "I refuse to let anyone else go to bed, either" stage: 4 years
The "Suddenly I'm afraid of everything at night" stage: 4 years
The "I can't sleep because I'm hungry" stage: 4 years
The "I came up to go potty in the middle of the night but I had to wake you up to tell you first" stage: 4 years
The "Please can I sleep on the couch while you sit up next to me all night" stage: 4 years
The "river system/I like to play in running water and mud" stage: 4-5 years (and beyond, but it really starts at 4-5 years)
The "it doesn't look like I imagined it so I'm going to tear it up and melt down into a puddle on the floor and refuse to do ___ ever again! Loudly!" stage: 5 years
The "okay so maybe I don't actually care if you're cooking something, I don't need to stand on a chair and help/watch" stage: 5 years
The "oh, maybe I actually _don't_ want to come to the store with you" stage: 6 years
The "drawing a lot of comics" stage: 6 years
The "I delight in absurdity" stage: 6 years
The "I want to cook things on the stove myself" stage: 7 years
The "I have a lot of great ideas at bedtime and want to tell you all of them before I sleep" stage: 8 years on up
The "I think I'm going to write a novel" stage: 8.5 years
The "I'm so glad I'm weird, right?" stage: 10 years

Do you have more to add that you've noticed?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Did I just read that?

"Mythbusters to end with final season"

Sad as that news might be, it's a funny headline.  If it's the final season and it didn't end, doesn't that mean it's not the final season? So...uh...yes. Of course it will end with the final season. All shows end with the final season. That's the definition of final season.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Messy House Doctrine

The idea that cleanliness of your house is next to godliness has resurfaced in our lives again--this time one of the kids heard it in a church class.

The "doctrine" has morphed. No longer is it, "You cannot feel the Spirit in a messy home."  Now it is, "You can feel the Spirit in a messy home, but it's not as easy."

Nice change. Still not true.

The idea that you can do things that make it harder to understand the Spirit rings true to me. I know if I don't go to church, even if I have a good reason, it's harder for me to get answers to my prayers--they come slower and quieter. I also find it harder to understand (I hesitate to use "feel the Spirit" because it is so often warped into this idea that emotions are driven by the Spirit, which is not true) the Spirit when I don't sleep enough, or when I eat only junk food. Or when I'm depressed or having anxiety. Or when I am feeling stubbornly resolved to my will or when I want something so badly that I'm not sure I could accept a "no" answer from God.

While I do believe there are things that hamper each person's ability to understand the Spirit, and I do believe there are universal things that hamper everyone's understanding (like sin), I think it's a mistake to take my own list and impose it on everyone else. Perhaps lack of sleep doesn't affect you the same way it does me, for example.

Saying that I can't understand the Spirit because my floor is messy is imposing your list on me.  It would be okay to say, "While you can feel the Spirit in a messy house, it's not as easy for me to feel the Spirit in a messy place as it is in a clean place."

Besides, who is to say what constitutes "clean" or "messy" when we're talking houses?  Everyone has a different level of chaos tolerance. Personally, I think a low level of chaos tolerance is a handicap, not a sign of greater spirituality and righteousness. If you can't think when there are things on the floor, it seems to me like something is wrong with you. It seems like it might hamper your ability to feel the Spirit if you compulsively MUST pick up before you can get answers to your prayers or concentrate on the scriptures, or if you can't feel the Spirit in a slum.

This "cleanliness doctrine" really falls apart upon closer examination anyway. What you're saying is:
   --mothers of young children
   --people with disabilities (including the invisible ones like ADHD or fibro)
  --people who have just lived through a disaster (floods and fires are messy)
  --people who have chronic illness
  --single parents
  --people who are stuck in abject poverty
  --people who are struggling through mental illness like depression
  --people who are random
  --missionaries who are teaching in a messy environment, like a slum
  --everyone who lives in countries that are "third world" in your eyes
  --people who have at-home children all the time (toddlers and babies, homeschoolers, people with sick children) because there is no break from mess-making
  --people with a lot of small children
  --caretakers of the disabled, elderly, mentally ill
have less ability to understand the Spirit than you who have the luxury of easily having clean floors do.

Not only that, but somewhat perversely, you are saying that men who abuse their wives and force them to clean the floors to white-glove-test cleanliness have the best ability to feel the Spirit, thanks to their wife's efforts and none of their own. And child abusers who have spotless houses thanks to the slave labor of their children have an easier time feeling the Spirit.

Besides, who defines how clean is clean enough for the Spirit?

It is a mistake to conflate clean houses with righteousness. And its a mistake to judge other people's spirituality, especially based entirely on the condition of their house or car.

What helps us have a better chance of understanding the Spirit? A clean HEART. A clean soul. Clean thoughts. And practice listening to and obeying the Spirit--the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Even in slums.

I can't find any scriptures that actually say, "Clean your house." Individuals might get that as an answer to prayer. I even have--it's easier to live in a cleaner house, quite frankly. But let that be enough reason--you don't have to make it a commandment or a sign of your spirituality. (And how would a messy person get the inspiration to clean up if they can't feel the Spirit in a messy environment?)

And, in fact, even in conference women have said, "The answer was to clean less and do scripture study/family home evening more."

I also find it grossly unfair to women to say that everyone can feel the Spirit more easily in a clean house. Why? Because by and large, women are still the ones responsible for the home environment, even in homes where two parents work. So when we teach that the house has to be clean for anyone inside to be able to feel the Spirit, what we're telling people is that the woman in the house is responsible for everyone's ability to understand the Spirit, and that's not fair. That's worse that the flap all the feminists get into when we teach modesty and they say it's unfair that we are putting responsibility on girls for boys' bad thoughts. It is certainly not my fault if you can't understand answers to your prayers.

By making housekeeping a righteousness issue instead of something more mundane, we're also degrading the work of mothering, making it lesser than (or equating it) with housekeeping, as if a woman's sole value was in her ability to clean up messes. Mothering is not cleaning. Period. They're not even related. You can hire someone else to do all the cleaning and not lose any speck of your mothering ability. In fact, housekeeping interferes with most women's ability to mother the way they want, and if we make housekeeping the greater importance, women lose. And so do children.  If you have to choose between a clean floor and reading the scriptures with your children, and most moms of young babies do, it's unfair to try to equate them spiritually.

How many moms end up overwhelmed and depressed because the pressure to keep the house clean and still do everything else is overwhelming? How much better is it for a family to have a happy, functional mom and a messy floor? A lot. Immeasurably better. It's completely unfair to a mom to say that her whole family's spirituality requires her to be overworked and miserable. That sounds an awful lot like God hates women, and I know He doesn't. Nor does He require anything of a woman in order for her husband to be able to more or less easily feel the Spirit. Your ability to understand the Spirit is on you and you alone. That's not anyone else's responsibility, and it's unfair to everyone to make it seem otherwise.

This is not to degrade the work women do in their homes. Every single thing women do to make their homes a comfortable, safe, happy sanctuary for their families is vital and valued. It's all part of the important mission of women, and women need to be told that because it always seems like the drudgery of housework is not important. But it is.

But can't it be enough that it's important because it's healthier, more convenient, and comfortable? Do we have to make it a matter of our spiritual health? Can't we make righteousness the focus of our spiritual health instead?

I know of so, so many women who were beating themselves up because they couldn't keep up with the work who prayed or got blessings that said, "Don't focus so much on the floor. It doesn't matter if the house is clean as much as it matters that you are doing scripture study and drawing your children close instead of pushing them away so you can clean."  If you have to neglect or yell at the kids so you can clean, there's a problem.

And many of us have to choose between teaching our children, making good memories, developing their talents, and staying sane and keeping the house spotless, and those are not fair choices to inject "by the way, keeping the house clean is righteousness" into--especially since the others are actually more important, and most of us (admit it) can't do both at any given moment.

Most women get the balance better than I do and manage to keep their houses at least passably tidy. And everyone has to deal with their "this must be cleaned up because I can't live like this" point--wherever it falls on the cleanness spectrum.

But let's let it be what it is and not make it something else.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Please read this....

Please read this. Having been in and out (but more in) crisis mode for 10 years (pretty much straight, either for me, or my husband, or other people we love, without a break of any longer than a couple of days in a row that I can remember since 2008), I can attest to every word in here.


This should be required reading for every person who wants to love or serve people in crisis. Or who ever might meet someone in crisis.

Now go hold someone's hand.

And for every single person who I was trying to help and I did it wrong: I'm sorry. I am so so sorry.

Sunday, October 11, 2015


Ether 12:27: And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

This is a well-known scripture. We often interpret it to mean that we all have weaknesses and they are there to make us humble, and if we trust God, He will turn our weaknesses into strengths.

And from this verse, we tend to extrapolate the idea that we each have weaknesses and strengths, and we should spend our lives rooting out our weaknesses. It's almost as if we believe that we are a giant computer code, and if we can find all the bugs and eliminate them, then we will be perfect. So we're supposed to search and destroy--identify our bits of bad code and rewrite them or cut them out entirely--until we are perfect humans.

After all, how could it be wrong to work on self-improvement?

The trouble is it doesn't work. And it can't. Why?

Several reasons, many of which add up to "What makes you think you're smart enough to do that?": 

1. We are not actually capable of seeing all our weaknesses. Some of them, like pride, actually change the way we see altogether, making it impossible for us to spot them.

2. What we define as weaknesses might not actually be weaknesses. For years I was ashamed that I was so strong-willed. But then I stumbled upon my mom's journal and found one of the few entries she made was my baby blessing, where she recorded that I was blessed with a strong will. Had I rooted that out of my soul, I would have been getting rid of a blessing. And an essential part of who I am.

3. What we see as weaknesses are so intertwined with so many, many things that we can't see the results of our efforts. So many things are, as my mom used to say, "Double-edged swords." If you excise one thing, you might accidentally destroy something you like.

4. Looking for and eliminating our weaknesses is entirely the wrong focus. It leaves us looking inward instead of outward. The purpose of life is NOT to watch ourselves and focus on ourselves. The purpose is to take care of ourselves specifically so we can serve the people around us and love others. It's not supposed to be all about you, and focusing on getting rid of your weaknesses makes it all about you.

5. How do you know what is a weakness without comparing yourself to others?  Comparison is not healthy and, by its nature is embedded in pride, which is a sin.

and, most importantly, 6. We can't actually do that. Many of our "weaknesses" are embedded in our biological makeup. Without Jesus, we can't actually get rid of them.

But it turns out that's not what the scripture says, anyway. You notice, it doesn't say that we have weaknesses to keep us humble or that we are supposed to find and eliminate our weaknesses, as if there was a checklist for perfection. 

Let's read it again: 

Ether 12:27: And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

First of all, the scripture does not say we have weaknesses. It says we are weak. There is a big difference there. We are weak and incapable, not for any one thing we can find and get rid of but because we are human. We are weak, especially compared to God. And really, that's a comforting idea. Like a baby can't do all things (or even many things) because of lack of strength, we can't either and that is not a condemnation of us. It is a simple statement of reality.

We are weak, therefore we can't do a lot of things and we fail a lot and that makes us humble (if we let it). So if we go unto God, He will show us that we are weak. But His grace is sufficient for us if we humble ourselves.  And then it is never our job to make ourselves strong--you notice that in the verse? It is our job to become humble before him (not before men, which is actually another form of pride) and to have faith in him, and then He takes care of it, making weak things become strong. 

Moroni was comforted by these words, and I am, too. It is not a call to self-improvement. It is a statement from a loving God that yes, you are weak, and that's just fine. It's no condemnation to you if you are weak, only if you are proud. 

When I'm working on a car, and I can't get a bolt off, I can get mad at myself and feel furious and frustrated and miserable because I'm not strong enough. Or I can acknowledge that I'm not strong enough and ask for help. I have learned that I'm too weak physically to get the bolts out of car parts, and if I ask Tim he can usually do it with little trouble. He is stronger than I am.  It's easier for all of us if I don't bother to be stubborn and keep trying myself when I actually am too weak for that and just ask for help. 

I'm the kind of person who usually feels really bad when I fail at things. I like to succeed, and I like to think that if I just try harder, I will always find a way to succeed.  So then it's kind of devastating when I try my hardest and still fail.

But that's where this scripture becomes comforting to me. It's good to be reminded that I'm not just dumb, and I'm not a failure, and I'm not all full of weaknesses that I have yet to find and correct. No--I'm just weak. I just actually can't do it myself. I am like a baby to God, and babies not only can't do a lot of things, the things they can do are done awkwardly and poorly, imperfectly and weakly. And we rejoice at their efforts. God has no misconceptions of how weak I am--only I do. And no doubt he rejoices at my efforts and cheers for my awkward, poorly executed, imperfect results. And if I am willing to see myself as weak, we're both happier for it because then I let God help me, and am more willing to let go and let Him help, and trust what He's doing. 

And if I'm failing because I'm weak, and I turn to Him for help, and He doesn't fix it for me, then I need to trust whatever He is doing even if I don't understand it. And chances are I don't because I'm weak and He's strong; I have limited vision and He can see everything.

This is not to say we don't have to try to do right and keep the commandments and follow God's rules because we're too weak. He expects us to do our very, very best in our weakness. We still have to work, and He makes us do all the parts we can ourselves. It's not an excuse to do nothing.

But it is much nicer to look at life as me being a weak thing that God loves and will help than as a strong thing that is full of faults and failed. We can't try harder to be strong and perfect ourselves. We can just try harder to be humble and have faith that God knows what He's doing, and He is strong.

Doctrinal Porn

The church recently released a really good video for kids about what to do if you see porn.  (You can see it here:  I showed it to all my kids.

One of my greatest fears is that my kids will become addicted to porn and not be able to get free, and that it will ruin their marriages.

Why is porn so scary to me?

Many reasons, including:
 --It takes something sacred and twists it so that the sacred seems dull and the twisted version seems normal, warping a person's ability to enjoy and benefit from the sacred, natural version.

--It dulls natural sensations and emotions

--It redefines love into something selfish and unhealthy

--It objectifies an entire class of people

--It's progressive, leading you further and further from reality while simultaneously making reality more and more boring and distasteful

--It convinces you that what you do alone doesn't affect anyone else

--It's a secret, done in secret, kept in secret, and secrets aren't really healthy

--It destroys a person's ability to have normal, healthy relationships (both intimate and casual)

--It hampers a person's ability to handle stress, unhappiness, problems, and interpersonal interactions (especially the unpleasant ones) in healthy ways

--It blurs the lines between reality and fantasy, making it hard for people to live and function in reality

--It is addicting. Like the video says, we happen upon it and it feels wrong but it also makes us curious and makes us want to see more.

In short, pornography interferes with a person's ability to interact with other people, to be in tune with their own emotions, and to live a healthy, connected life.

So you know I have also been concerned for a long time about the doctrines that are becoming ever more prevalent and open in the world among my peers--especially feminism and intellectual/ progressive mormonism.  I've talked before about feminism being like a virus that infects your soul and changes your ability to see clearly.

While I think that is still an apt comparison, I'm starting to see a great comparison between these feminist and intellectual approaches to mormonism and porn.  I know this seems like a completely exaggerated and unfair comparison, but hear me out.

These progressive and intellectual mormon doctrines--the ones I wanted to just call apostasy outright in my last blog post--often feel wrong at first glance, but they make us curious and make us want to read more and hear more.  (You can see my brother's take on this here:

They are something we usually indulge in privately and don't like to tell those we love that we just spent time on them.

They are addicting. People go back for more again and again, even without being able to say why.

The doctrines (and blog posts espousing them) blur the lines between the gospel and flat-out apostasy, making it hard to tell where the truth ends and the lies begin.

They hamper a person's ability to deal with stress, interpersonal troubles, and unhappiness in the ways the Lord has recommended that He says will help. Somehow these doctrines make it harder for people to access the atonement and find the peace the Spirit is supposed to bring. And they make it harder to deal with the frailties, faults, and downright stupidities of local leaders in the church.

Somehow, these doctrines hamper a person's ability to have normal, healthy relationships with God. This is especially sad when a person is already struggling and their faith is already stretched to its limit.

The doctrines are progressive. Nobody jumps from the gospel into apostasy in one big leap. It's through little, progressive doctrines instead. One step at a time.

Where porn redefines love into something selfish, these intellectual and feminist versions of Mormonism redefine our relationship with God into something selfish, where we define for Him how things are going to go and how they work and what we believe is right instead of letting Him define it all.

These doctrines dull natural spiritual sensations and emotions, making them harder to feel and understand.

And, ultimately, like porn, these doctrines take something sacred and twists it into something else, making it harder for people to access the natural, healthy, sacred version of spirituality, the gospel, and our relationships with God and Jesus.

In short, doctrinal pornography interferes with a person's ability to interact with God and righteous people, to be in tune with their own emotions and the way the Holy Ghost speaks to them, and to live a healthy, connected-with-God kind of life.

I have not taken the time to figure out HOW the "doctrinal porn" does all these things. I'm just seeing a parallel between how pornography affects human emotion, relationships, and sexuality and how doctrinal porn affects human emotion, relationships, and spirituality. Porn messes up men's ability to interact with women and feel love. Doctrinal porn messes with people's ability to interact with God and feel the Spirit, as far as I can tell.

This doctrinal porn is really hard to identify. It's often mixed in with other things. I know on my mission they told us to just not watch "The Godmakers" (an anti-mormon film that was produced in my  mission), just like they tell people to just not look at porn in the first place. But certainly The Godmakers isn't the only stuff out there we should not be indulging in.

So what exactly counts as doctrinal porn, as opposed to legitimate scholarly work or honest curiosity or harmless but deeply-held belief?

I honestly don't know. It's harder to define, even, than what constitutes porn (vs art, scholarly work, etc). I'm sure it's all mixed in. But, like porn, it's becoming more prevalent in our society and more widely-seen. It's less secret, less likely to be only found if you go looking.

And I can't even tell someone what to avoid, except to say it seems it would be wise to pray for the gift of discernment so that, like porn, you know it when you see it.

And what you do with it is up to you.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Complaining about the apostles

Still seeing articles, purporting to be compassionate acknowlegments of the "pain" of other people and the "aggressions" of the leadership of the church (those are both catchphrases that have more meanings than you might think).

At what point do we get to start calling a spade a spade? At what point do we get to start labeling these carefully-worded "compassionate" complaints against the Church as what they are: apostacy? Not to punish the speakers, but to protect the vulnerable and easily deluded--especially the feminists and intellectuals themselves, who might choose to continue in their "Jesus is stupid" path, but they might choose to re-examine their beliefs and change?

It bothers me a lot how aggressively they are pushing their doctrine and trying to lead others astray. And succeeding at it. Perhaps there aren't enough voices standing up and saying, "The apostles are called of Christ, not by a committee who are interested only in maintaining their power and keeping the people crushed under their feet." Perhaps we don't need to label it apostacy, but perhaps it's time that we all stand up and fearlessly speak the truth.

Perhaps they aren't leading anyone astray. Maybe they're all talking to their echo chambers, and the lovers of truth can see through the nonsense or just don't even listen, like the righteous did to Korihor.

But calling it what it is seems like an important first step, even if we don't say it out loud.

For the record: Apostles are called by God and Jesus. And if they choose white men, so be it.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Protesters. Sigh.

Conference is only half over and people are already coming out to protest.

There are the usual parties: feminists and intellectuals.

The feminists (not all of them--the Ordain Women crew again) are out putting on little skits of how women ought to be involved, showing little girls preparing the sacrament, without any clue that what they are doing is highly offensive to most members, mocking things many of us find sacred. And still without any clue to the irony of their position: completely denigrating the priesthood while begging for it.

Despite their protests to the contrary, it appears that these feminists are looking for more power for themselves in the church.

The intellectuals are out in force on social media, complaining about the new apostles being white. They are sure the church would be better served by someone who is not of European descent, and it appears they want someone from Africa.

Despite their protests to the contrary, it appears that these intellectuals are looking for the church to become socially acceptable.

Neither group is asking the pertinent question: Is this Jesus Christ's church or not? Is Jesus in charge of the church, or not?

That is the main question.

Also, I'm seeing that if you set out to watch conference to find mistakes and errors, you will find them. And that's a shame--not because errors exist, but because if you're looking for problems, you're not looking for answers or enrichment or to be taught and edified at the feet of Apostles of God.

It seems especially sad to me because this Saturday Conference, the Brethren actually did address the issues and the attitudes of many of these protesting parties. And they were too busy looking for grammatical errors and misquotations to actually hear the answers they say they are searching for.

It is truly their loss. But what a loss.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Things that bothered me this week

--Sexism disguised as "feminism" that is, therefore, socially acceptable.

--Feminists who tell women how to be happy (and it doesn't include children)

--The idea that my very most important work (raising my family) could be left out of my obituary because some stupid feminist made a rule about that

--The idea that women should be more like men instead of maybe considering the idea that maybe men are the ones doing it wrong, or that everyone brings something different to the table and we should use and appreciate all the offerings instead of rejecting some

--Seeing homeschooling parents condemning their children and making them do assignments again even though they got all the answers right because the lines were not straight enough (and the kid is just 5 years old)

--Seeing all around us that people arbitrarily condemn others (including their own spouses and children) for doing things "wrong" when, in fact, it's just another way of doing it. Why is the method more important than the

Saturday, September 26, 2015

What bedtime looked like at our house tonight

Some big kid decided it was a great idea to play "killing zombies" in the big kids' room tonight when I sent them all (six share a room) down to read.

So when it was time to sleep, I had big kids happily contemplating the heroism of slaying the undead, the little kids were unhappily contemplating zombies.

Three kids needed sippy cups of milk at the same time. One needed to watch a movie to keep him out of trouble. Another needed to watch a different movie in a different room to escape thinking about zombies. Another just couldn't settle down and kept coming out of the bedroom for this thing or that.

Elijah, meanwhile, busied himself making a machine that would open the cupboard for him out of a toy shopping cart and a bungee cord.

Caleb spent time pacing through the house, lost in thought.

I set the baby down to go chase kids off to their various spots, and when I came back, I found Emmeline had found a bag of large marshmallows on the floor in the kitchen. And she had managed to open it. And she had managed to empty it. By the time I got there, she was sitting happily in a pile of large marshmallows, one in each hand, taking bites out of as many as she could get into her sticky little fists. It was so cute, I couldn't step in to stop her for a minute. Besides, her attempts at crawling with marshmallows stuck to both hands were quite comical.

But now it's bedtime. And at least 4 kids are on their feet in the living room.

Back to herding cats.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

When you die....

I got news this month that two people in my life have cancer and aren't going to live long.

One person has been kind to people I love for many years, and when I heard he was not going to live much longer, I cried. For him to suffer, for his family to lose him, for my loved ones to lose him. He will be sorely missed, and many, many people will be working hard and living good so they can be with him again.

One person has been horribly, obstinately, aggressively abusive to people I love for many decades, and when I heard she was going to die, I thought, "Good riddance; thank goodness she won't be able to hurt anyone anymore," and immediately felt ashamed for it because we're not supposed to feel relieved when someone dies. I also felt sad for her. I'm not sitting here rejoicing in her cancer. I felt sad for her because her cancer will make her suffer, and I hate to see even a spider or a dog suffer. And I felt sad for her because she's going to have to meet God after all the horrible things she's proudly done to others that damaged them and sometimes destroyed their lives that she feels no remorse for at all.

I know this is a socially inappropriate post but I just want to say this:

Live so that when you die, the first sentiment in most people's minds is not, "Good riddance."