Wednesday, August 31, 2005 

Obsessive Food Storage

Last night I became mildly obsessed with watching CNN, Fox News and every other news network that my cable recieved. Hurricane Katrina's devastation of the southern US has made me think "What if?"

It's affecting me a little more because I was in New Orleans just 2 weeks ago on my honeymoon. On TV I saw the bridge over Lake Pontchartain that we rode over to get to our "swamp tour" broken into pieces. On the internet I saw Canal Street, the busiest street in the city where I was walking 15 days ago submerged in 2 feet of water.

Maybe someone's food storage in this case may have been ruined, but there's more to "food storage" than wheat grinders and canned peas. You're also supposed to store water (which is a pretty hot commodity right now) and other essentials (medications, etc.).

What I always found interesting about food storage is what a waste of money it is for most people. You buy a bunch of food that's supposed to help you out in case of an emergency or in the lean times, but it's not really food that you like. So, when there's no emergency and no lean times, you end up just throwing the food out after 5 years or so.

That's a colossal waste. I think that if you're going to get food storage, it has to be things you will consume as you go along. You should keep a year's supply of stuff you will use in an average year.

You start by buying double of what you're going to use for several months. When you buy something, you date it with the purchase date so that you use the oldest items first. You save some old milk jugs or soda bottles, clean them out and fill them with tap water. You never get down to your last month's worth of medicine without reordering. THIS is how you do food storage.

But really... who's got the time? It's easier to buy a food storage kit from one of those emergency preparedness companies that has crazy informercials, websites, or ads in the Provo newspaper. It might be a waste, but it's a lot less work.

Do I do either of these things? Nope. Should I? Yep. Will I? Probably not.

That's why I give to the Red Cross.

Monday, August 29, 2005 

Could This Be Any More Timely? Or is God Trying to Tell Us Something Here At VSoM?

No, seriously…don’t you think that all those people in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, etc are glad they have some food storage right now? I know for a fact that LDS people are not the only ones who believe in the principle of self sufficiency and preparedness. People who live in the hurricane regions and tornado alley have a food and water storage and it has nothing to do with being LDS.

But to briefly give the official view:

January 20, 2002

To: General Authorities; Area Authority Seventies; Stake, Mission, and District Presidents; Bishops and Branch Presidents

Dear Brethren:

Home Storage and Financial Reserves

Priesthood and Relief Society leaders should teach the importance of home storage and securing a financial reserve. These principles may be taught in ward councils or on a fifth Sunday in priesthood and Relief Society meetings.

Church members can begin their home storage by storing the basic foods that would be required to keep them alive if they did not have anything else to eat. Depending on where members live, those basics might include water, wheat or other grains, legumes, salt, honey or sugar, powdered milk, and cooking oil. (See reverse for suggested amounts.) When members have stored enough of these essentials to meet the needs of their family for one year, they may decide to add other items that they are accustomed to using day to day.

Some members do not have the money or space for such storage, and some are prohibited by law from storing a year's supply of food. These members should store as much as their circumstances allow. Families who do not have the resources to acquire a year's supply can begin their storage by obtaining supplies to last for a few months. Members should be prudent and not panic or go to extremes in this effort. Through careful planning, most Church members can, over time, establish both a financial reserve and a year's supply of essentials.

Sincerely yours,

The First Presidency

Sometimes, food storage seems like such an archaic subject. And then you run into a situation where you need it. Time and time again we are taught to be prepared: spiritually, temporally, & financially. The scriptures are full of stories about people who prepared and people who didn’t. I think the story of Joseph of Egypt’s dreams of the seven years of plenty and the seven years of drought come into mind often.

My parents did their best when we were young. They obediently bought the requisite wheat, grinder, honey, oil, and a pallet of tampons (“what ARE those?!” my young mind wondered….). And as we moved once, twice, five, six, eight, nine times…the storage was sold off or given away to keep from paying the cost of moving it. But each time we arrived at the new place, the food storage would be built up again.

I love that the other day, a niece was asked to get something out of my sister’s food storage pantry in the basement and she asked, “You mean Amy’s little grocery store?”

I used to work (briefly) for a really great food storage company. They used to work with companies like Malt-O-Meal, Bear Creek Soups, American Beauty Pasta, and Stephen’s Hot Chocolate to package their products specially to last for food storage purposes. Imagine that! Food you ACTUALLY eat! Packaged to last! It really was a great idea. But I think people had a hard time with the paradigm shift away from raw wheat to a bread mix where you would just add water. That’s OK. I think people are just trying to be obedient to the counsel the church gives.

Personally, I have a testimony of food storage. We used ours this last year. I stopped working about a year ago to see if the stress of a career and lots of traveling was part of the not-having-children dilemma. We lost a 1/3 of our income, and found ourselves in a major financial crunch. Luckily, we had started our food storage by picking up extra things as we shopped and having a reserve, of a sort, of things to eat and use (toilet paper, deodorant, shampoo, fancy body wash….). We decided last winter to try and not spend ANY money…we ate from our food storage and didn’t grocery shop. By January, we had paid off all our unnecessary debt from credit cards and debt from starting a company.

We felt blessed. We still do. We follow the prophets’ admonition to grow a garden, and have an abundance of produce each summer which also helps us keep our household costs down. I even learned to can so that we could enjoy fruit through the winter.

I have to say that the fruits of my labors are satisfying. It’s so easy to just go to the grocery store and buy stuff, but it’s so FUN to take fresh green beans to a dinner party that were in your garden not an hour before.

I have to work at having a full food storage. In the back of my mind I know it will get washed away when we have an earthquake and Deer Creek dam breaks and washes my house the ¾ miles into Utah Lake. That is why we decided to make out food storage mobile:

The brown one is Food Storage Unit A and the white one is Food Storage Unit B. We figure the pumpkin will last us for a good year or so...

The wheelbarrow is a must for good mobility. If only we could find some oxen… or a way to strap the Food Storage Units A & B to the wheelbarrow...

Good LDS links on the why's and how's of Food Storage...,8170,1569-1-77,00.html,10803,1653-1,00.html

Friday, August 26, 2005 

The funny

I am a little unsure as to how to take this week's topic. It seems to be part confessional/part embarassing story-a-thon. I have a story that fits this category, but it requires a lengthy introduction about the funny.

The funny is what wannabe comics call the ability to consistently make others laugh (or, at least, it was the term I used when I wanted to be a comic). It is as much a skill as a talent and it takes a lot of practice and trial and error to get it right. The funny is unique. It is so tied into a person's character that it is difficult for others to use it in the same way (this, more than anything, is why professional comics almost never steal each other's schtick). The funny is universal. If you have the funny down, you can get almost anyone to laugh, smile, or roll their eyes tolerably. Most comics will tell you that the funny isn't there every night, that some bombs are unavoidable. Nonetheless, successful comics can access the funny far more often than they can't.

When I was in high school, I was a student of the funny. I was an awkward kid, unsure of myself. I communicated awkwardness in my dress, my demeanor, and my acquaintances. I dressed like the freaks and hung with the geeks. It took a little while for me to find my useful talent, but when I did, it was the funny. I could make people laugh. I could calculate the unexpected and then say or do it in the appropriate way to get a laugh. I didn't sling insults around much, but when I did, they were funny. I didn't tell many jokes, but when I did, they were funny. I didn't make many fashion statements, but when I did, they were funny (often unintentionally).

I had a friend, Steve Batterson, with whom I developed a schtick. I was the Jerry Lewis to his Woody Allen. I was all bad puns, misheard innuendos, and pratfalls. He was all quick wit and abrasive insecurity. We did a morning show for the high school close-circuit TV that was our little version of David Letterman (or maybe Conan O'Brien when Andy Richter was on the show). We had a lot of laughs secure in our knowledge of the funny.

I studied the funny. I watched Comedy Central obsessively. I also watched Sportscenter, because the anchors there were much, much funnier than other sportscasters. I was never a memorizer of Monty Python, Black Adder, or Mystery Science Theater 3000, but I watched whatever I could and paid close attention to what was funny. There were many different styles and I was developing my own.

The highpoint of my romance with the funny came at BYU in my freshman year. I was a technical theater major who was in deep denial regarding my desire to act. I eventually convinced myself to try out for an experimental play that an acquaintance of mine was putting on. At the auditions, people were given a brief monologue from the play and asked to perform it. I took mine, about a guy who was trying to impress an old-flame at a high-school reunion or something, and I applied the funny. When I read the monologue later, I realized that it was meant to be a solemn, wistful sort of monologue, but I didn't notice that at first and read it as a putz, full of bad self-justification, misunderstood signals, and complete cluelessness. And it worked. The assembled wannabe actors actually paid attention and laughed at the right bits. I had done the funny justice.

Then, near the end of the monologue, the worst thing possible happened. I broke character, which my training had drilled into me was the worst thing that I could do. I was saying something that wasn't meant to be funny, but something in my delivery struck some girl in the audience as funny and she laughed. A loud, brash laugh that had no place being emitted at that point in the monologue. She wasn't going along with the program. I was unnerved by the laugh; I couldn't think. I quickly turned to her, stuck my tongue out at her, and continued the monologue. Immediately, I realized my error. What I had done had probably ruined my shot at getting the part; breaking character is never a good thing. I was mad: mad at myself for letting her get to me, but madder at her for that unforeseen, thought-rending laugh. How did she have the nerve to laugh at the non-appointed spot? Didn't she understand what was funny and what wasn't? Why did she have to throw me off my game?

I finished the monologue and wanted, more than anything, to go over there and punch her; to scratch at her eyes or grab at her throat. I was furious and wasn't quite able to contain myself. So, I walked over to her. But I knew that it would be bad for me to harm her. So, I made myself do something that was as far from harming her as I could imagine. I placed my hands behind her head, pulled her to me, and kissed her.

I feel like I should mention that I had never seen this girl before. I have never seen her since. I have no idea if she thought it was funny or disturbing or appropriate. I don't know if she thought that this meant I liked her or if she understood that I was really mad at her. She didn't seem particularly shocked or offended. I don't recall her having much of a reaction at all.

The director then went on to have us all give each other back rubs (I wound up rubbing her back and she mine). We practiced tableau and other acting tricks and, as predicted, I didn't get the part.

I tell this story to others sometimes, in part because I am such a timid-looking fellow in person. It is hard for people to imagine me doing something so crazy. I preface the story by saying that I once kissed a complete stranger because I was mad at her. However, I've done a lot of thinking lately about the story. When I hear about rapists and their motivations, I realize that they match (somewhat) with mine in this act. This girl had taken my control away from me and I had to regain it by dominating her. I am rather disturbed by this development. The original title of this post was "Violent Sex Acts," but I retain enough of the funny to know that that wouldn't be funny.

Since that "high" point, my relationship with the funny has waned. I went on a mission, which hurt my ability to bring the funny. There is a practiced insincerity needed to call upon the funny (the truth isn't funny to strangers, because it is too true. You have to know the people involved to feel comfortable laughing at the truth). You can't be insincere and be a missionary, so I gave it up in order to be a better missionary. I was still funny (and still am), but much more intermittently. Coincidentally, I gave up all thoughts of acting, too.

To the girl I kissed in anger, I didn't understand what motivated me at the time and, to be honest, I am still a little unclear about it. I guess I thought it would be funny. If I hurt you, I am sorry. I cannot offer you much more than that, unfortunately. Just please know that I haven't made a habit of it and I won't tell the story anymore. I just don't find it funny.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005 

Confession is Good For the Soul

I have a guilty pleasure--I love confessing.

Ironic that I'm confessing that I take pleasure in confessing, isn't it?

Really, though, I live my life in a way I'm not ashamed of... most of the time. When there are incidents that make me embarrassed, I tell everyone about them. This, in turn, makes them quite funny (most of the time). Case in point, last year when I first started blogging, I was convinced that I had somehow contracted ringworm (AKA "jock itch") on my face. It later turned out to be eczema, but by that point everyone knew that I had jock itch on my face. It was really funny to tell people because, not in spite of, the embarrassment it caused me.

I've really only adopted this attitude since leaving the church, though. While I was a member I confessed to the bishop on more than one occaision. In all instances, though, I felt that the bishop never viewed me the same way and didn't trust me in the same way. I viewed the callings I recieved as being related to these confessions and I never felt that the bishop viewed me or trusted me quite the same. This is all related, I think, to the feelings of judgement and the guilt associated with it that come with belief in a religion that requires repentance.

These days, when I confess, I'm instantly ridding myself of the internal shame I used to carry around with me. I make these confessions in the form on blog entries, telephone calls to friends and dessert conversation.

Nothing makes me feel so free as not having secrets because I'm just not afraid of what people will think. This doesn't mean that I confess every detail of my life, or even every thing that I'm ashamed of, but I get most of it out there... and laugh a lot more for it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005 

“Give me chastity and self-restraint, but do not give it yet” – St. Augustine (Confessions)

Rejoining us this week is one of VSoM's founders, Rebecca!

When Miss Marinara (or should I say Mrs. Marinara) approached me regarding blogging with VSoM for the day she gave me two options. This week, Confession: Have you done it? Would you do it again? Or next week, Food Storage: Do we hafta. Right off the bat I requested Confession. As the week went on and I thought through my decision I thought what I fool I am. Who wants to write about confessing to the bishop? The only thing I can think of that is worse then writing about confession is actually confessing. Right now I would much prefer telling stories of hot dry summers sitting on my grandmother’s porch podding peas and shucking corn straight out of her garden in preparation for canning. Now that topic would have been easy and fun.

But here I am - stuck. I have to confess that yes I’ve confessed.

When I think back to my “confession” I am reminded just how awful and uncomfortable I felt going through the entire process. I was in college. I was young and for the record the things I had done were not terrible, but I’d been taught they required confession. I also didn’t know what I was doing regarding my religious beliefs or lack there of. I had just broken up with my boyfriend, was nearing mission age and thought that maybe a mission would provide me with a testimony, something I severely lacked, but first, I’d have to confess about a few miss-behaviors, so to speak.

There I sat on the floor of the science building; its name escapes me now. I waited patiently with a lot of other people all wanting/needing to talk to the bishop. Most of the people waiting I only knew from the pages of our coffee table book known as the ward list which served more of a profile purpose then anything else. I looked around and kept hoping, crossing my fingers, that the person to go in before and after me had such horrible, atrocious sins that my little conversation would pale in comparison and quickly be forgotten. Who wants to walk into the bishop’s office, tell their sins and then say I am confessing because I don’t believe in God AND I want to go on a mission in hopes of finding him? Not many - even I could see how messed up my process of thinking was, yet still I was going to at least give it a “confession” chance.

My bishop was/ is a wonderful man. He’s a BYU professor, a friend of my mom and dad’s and he probably knew both of my brothers and knew that they were great and would probably one day meet my little sister and discover that she’s great too. My bishop was smart and kind and in this moment before I entered his office I knew that he also thought I was smart and kind, which made me like him even more.

After I left the office I still thought my bishop was amazing, but I decided he no longer thought that I was smart or kind, but instead was a disappointment. I thought he probably felt bad for my parents that they had a daughter who was so lost and confused. Feelings are a difficult thing to explain and often ridiculous. For example I am sure that my bishop still thought the same of me, only now he also felt for me on a level he hadn’t before, a level of pity maybe (but maybe not). I left my bishop’s office feeling like I was the worst person in the world, the biggest let down, failure. I wasn’t nearly as ashamed by my actions as I was by confessing them. I didn’t necessarily believe in the religion so it was still questionable to me if what I had done was really wrong. I was ashamed that I had told someone I know and respected things about me that they would not respect, things I didn’t want them to know because they contradicted who I worked so hard to appear to be. I was upset that I would never, through this individual’s eyes, be viewed as the person I had been only moments earlier. The feelings I had inside, some of you may know them, were ugly, very ugly.

My bishop did everything he was supposed to, he was supportive, set up follow-up appointments, assigned me scriptures to read and asked me to pray with him. But I didn’t want to do any of that. I had confessed, told my concerns regarding religion and as a result I felt total loss of confidence, like one big piece of crap-o-la. I never went to a follow-up appointment, or returned my Bishop’s call. He knew I was embarrassed and he seemed to understand. We saw each other on campus once while I was still supposed to be in his ward. He never brought up our meeting, or his phone call or even that I had dropped out of the ward completely. He was very considerate and I appreciated this and have always respected him because of his consideration.

After leaving BYU I didn’t see this bishop (he was my very last bishop) again until my wedding reception. I didn’t get married in the temple, by choice. When I saw him the “confession” feelings came rushing back. I was once again embarrassed and lost all confidence. I thought, I bet this is no surprise to him, the fact that I am not getting married in the temple. Yet he was incredibly kind and pleased to see me. He gave me a big hug and congratulated me and my husband and introduced me to his wife and told her that I was wonderful. In the time between when I saw him at my wedding and when I had seen him in his office as my bishop he always told my father how great I was. This meant a lot to me and showed me that the lack of confidence, the insecurity I felt was my own, not a reflection of his thoughts towards me.

I think my reaction boils down to some pretty simple facts. Nobody wants to tell people what they don’t want to hear especially when we are the subject of the disappointment. I used to make a practice of only telling my parents what they did want to hear, going as far as hiding the coffee maker when they came to visit. I knew they knew that I did things that they didn’t agree with, but what is the point of discussing them, right? Wrong.

Maybe my “confession” with my bishop was the first introduction to this lesson that has taken me so long to learn. I will never confess to a bishop again. BUT I hope to be honest in all my dealings. I don’t want to appear to be someone I am not. I want to always be me, coffee maker and all. Of course this is easier said then done, especially when the life some live may be different, some what contradictory, to the life others, loved ones, would hope for. But I believe that confession taught me that I am a better person being who I really am then trying to be someone I am not. This honest me is never as disappointing (to myself as well as others) as the me who works to appear to be something I am not.

And well wishes to all great bishops.

Monday, August 22, 2005 

Truth or Dare: Have You Done it? Would You Do It Again?

Bungee jumping? New a bridge over a raging river, and yes I would do it again. But never in some ratty mall parking lot or at a state fair or anything.

Stake fashion show? Yes...but I would NEVER do it again.

Get married? Yes...and it would be fun to do it all over again...I mean the wedding part. I love planning parties, you see.

Have a baby?
Haven't yet, but would give it a try.

Host 35 people for Christmas dinner? Yes...but I don't think I want to do that again.

Artificially inseminate a cow? No, and I hope never.

Intentionally hurt someone's feelings? Yes...and I'm not proud, but if you're not nice to me I'll do it again. (hahaha...that's SO not me...)

Get locked out on a balcony by myself, in a swimsuit, with curlers in my hair, in Mexico, and shout at strangers in broken Spanish to come rescue me? Yes...'nough said, let's move on.

Quit a job? Yes...and while I fantasized about it a million times, it was WAY more tame than I had ever planned.

Say the "f" word as a missionary sitting next to an investigator, behind the stake president, IN the chapel? Yes...but I don't think I would do that again.

Kill an animal? Heavens no...but I've buried a few and I have to admit I think about conveniently "losing" a certain dog.

Break the Word of Wisdom? Well...yes. I have slept longer than was necessary, eaten at a Brazilian BBQ restaurant in the summertime, and have definitely eaten fruit out of its season. Because I am clumsy, I am planning on growing some tobacco to use on my numerous bruises, and on any cattle I may procure. I also like rum cake, and whenever I go to Grand Cayman, I eat as much as possible. That goes for the Scottish chocolate rum balls at the Salt Lake culture festival, too. And rum raisin ice crbuccaneery be part pirate or buchaneer...I'll look into that.

Stolen something? the family-owned restaurant I worked at, I stole some photos they had of the missionaries who taught them in Naples. I mean to frame them really nicely and give them back as a surprise...that was 6 years ago. I feel like a heel.

Well, while I chose this topic, I did not intend it to be a forum for the disclosure of past sins. But oh well... What actually sparked this question for me was two-fold: a friend used to theorize "how can we know something is bad until we try it for ourselves?" and the realization that I have many, many good active LDS friends who have "experimented" in their lives. I was just wondering about that when I submitted the question. Let's discuss...

Saturday, August 20, 2005 

when someone asks if you're a god

This week’s topic had me stumped. It must be obvious that I’m fairly close to perfection but I was sure that I had some false god laying around somewhere. And I do. I love books. I worship books. I love to read them, I love to think about them. I love to repair them, to make them (literally, with the glue and the sewing, I love the sewing). My bookshelf stands against the wall and like a great heavy security blanket, seeing those books brings warm feelings to my heart. No kidding, I would sell my soul for a good book and the time to read it. Luckily, my wacko work schedule is slowing enough that I won’t be heading to a crossroads at midnight anytime soon.

Friday, August 19, 2005 

Now we're talking about something that's really important!

I am sad to say that while I have a wide variety of pet sins, false gods, and idols to whom I pay daily homage (TWOP, why are you such a cruel master!), the chiefest among these is me.

I am just a pretty selfish guy. Marriage has proven this to me above all else, but it has done very little to rectify the situation (or so my wife tells me). I don't know why it is, but if I want something, there is very little other people can do to convince me that other things ought to be higher in priority. Heck, other people, on occasion, might as well not exist (except, of course, you, dear reader).

Let's face it, I work in a field where, ideally, it will be daily confirmed to me just how smart I am. I write on blogs where, ideally, people discuss things that I have to say. I am also an underwear model.

I just love me so much that I have to take a lot of me time to think about me.

Perhaps this should change. Ad campaign notwithstanding, I am not getting enough love from the blogging thing (at least, there is one member in my fan club). In my (actual) career, I am mired in adjunctness. Surely there must be something out there to give my life more meaning.

Maybe if I got an x-box.

Thursday, August 18, 2005 

Sheep Go To Heaven, Goats Go To Hell

This was a harder topic to write on than I thought it would be. And it is NOT because I don’t think I have false gods and idols. (Ya’ll should know me better than that by now.) In truth, I had a hard time dissecting how I view false gods and idols and what those were in MY life. The outcome is far different than what it will be for any of you.

Or will it?

I have an addictive personality. No, that doesn’t mean that others are addicted to MY personality. (Although, I am a lot of fun.) What I mean by that statement is that my personality or character has addictive tendancies that will TAKE OVER MY LIFE if I am not careful. But I have learned that statement can be said about anyone of us. It is how we deal (or not deal) with these tendancies that define who we are.

I need a 12-Step program for my caffeine problem. We joke and say that anytime I need “a fix” that I am worshipping at St. Arbucks. It is a joke…but perhaps it’s not that funny if I go slightly out of my way to work each morning because of it. There are TWO ways to work…why do I take that second way? It’s not good, people…and I know that. Yet why do I continue on like I don’t have a choice in the matter?

I just finished the Sixth Harry Potter book. I loved it. I wished the seventh one was already written so I could continue reading. I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning reading that book because I just HAD to see what Harry and Co did next. I put off other things that I should be doing to read that book. But have I ever done that while reading the scriptures? Have I ever stayed up late glued to the scriptures because I just HAD to see how the parable of the laborers in the vineyard turns out? No, I never have. Does that mean that I have to include Harry Potter to “The List” of False Gods & Idols? Kinda looks that way, doesn’t it?

The problem is, there really isn’t anything wrong with me reading Harry Potter. (Notice I did not include the statement that ‘there really was nothing wrong with my caffeine addiction in their too.) The tricky part of the equation is letting books (like Harry Potter) or money or cars or clothes or worldly people become like an addiction that gets in the way of other, more important aspects of our life. You may even say that anything that takes away from the importance of Heavenly Father in our lives could be added to “The List.”

It’s scary when you actually stop and think about it. The List keeps getting longer.

I think it is important to remember that each person struggles differently with their “addictions.” I’m not going to lose sleep at night about my Harry Potter reading…but I am going to make sure that I have balance in my life to make sure I’m putting the Lord first. It always goes back to the balance issue, doesn't it?

For the record, I MAY lose sleep over the caffeine issue…but that could be due to compounding reasons. I'm just saying.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 

Uh, it’s all just so hard…

Please welcome today's guest blogger Adrianne. You can check out her blogs here, here and here. Read below for Adrianne's take on personal false idols and gods.

"I like the word 'indolence'. It makes my laziness seem classy." --Bern Williams, programmer/consultant

What are my personal false gods/idols, eh?

More appropriately, the question is what AREN’T my personal false gods/idols?

If conveniently ignoring things that you don’t really like or agree with and pretending they don’t apply to you counts as putting things above God, then I’m the leader of the pack. I should start my own support group. I find a rationalization for not doing (or doing, as the case may be) EVERYTHING.

R-Rated movies? Well, some of them DO have artistic value. Or are just amazing by any standards. Anyone seen America Beauty, for example? The Life of David Gale (I thought I was going to DIE when I saw this one--it’s SO good!) Or Fight Club, which may not have any artistic value to it but it’s just so freaking good I can’t stand it? Yeah, I disobey the counsel on this one.

Tattoos? I have two. And am going in for a 3rd. Any reason? No. I just like them. And I think they are cool. Again, not following counsel.

Making out? Uh, duh. Although I’m not sure too many people follow the counsel on this one.

Judging people? You bet--but I mean, really, if you are going to go out of your house in a plaid shirt paired with your best leggings that give you a HUGE wedgie and walk around in public where everyone can see you, isn’t it only natural that I wonder “What on earth was that person thinking?” This one, however, I think I’m ok on, since it clearly says in 3 Ne 14:2 and Matt 7:2, “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” So I figure I’m ok on this one, since I’d never die in a bad ensemble and when I get to HF, He’ll look at my track record and say, “Judges on attire and shoe choice…well, you are wearing a really nice pair of Steve Madden silletos and those are some slamming jeans…paired with a GREAT top! I judge you based on your attire--way to go!”

Swearing? For a girl, I’ve got one durrrty mouth! I’m not going to lie! I could make a houseful of frat boys blush. And I revel in it…I think it makes me funny. Hmm…a good LDS doesn’t use inappropriate language like that, but I sure do.

Dirty jokes, Cosmo magazine, immodest halter tops and cleavage-revealing shirts, extreme love of money, a deep love of rap/hip-hop music with as many sexual references and swear words as it can have, inappropriate dancing, breaking the Sabbath to go swimming at the lake, etc, etc, etc…The list goes on and on.

Realistically, I know that all these things obviously chip away at my relationship with my HF, since I know the counsel on these things and I choose to ignore it. Why on earth do I constantly choose to ignore counsel, hence placing things of the world above the Lord’s wishes?

Uh…good question…

I’m very much an “of the world” Mormon, even when I’m not trying to be. I grew up with an insanely liberal mom who went through stints of going to church and not going to church. She doesn’t even know all the rules and counsel on things that the Church lays down (for example, when I told her that you weren’t supposed to masturbate, her jaw dropped and she said, “What?! Are we made of stone?! That’s just ridiculous!”). So, I internalized these sort of lackadaisical ideas about following church counsel. It wasn’t uncommon for my mom to crack open a beer after work on Saturday and then go to church on Sunday. Conveniently ignoring things.

Really, my personal false gods and idols are periphery things. Things that in my opinion aren’t hugely important, other than that I’m being disobedient. I obey the WoW and try to pay my tithing. I attend my meetings, engage in intellectual conversation about the church, and try to do my best when it comes to things that I quantify as “big” things. The little things, though…I let those slide.

There are many reasons why I choose to ignore the little things. It’s a product of my upbringing, for sure. It’s also my way of thumbing my nose at authority and being rebellious in safer ways than doing drugs or whatever. I mean, TAKE THAT, Church leaders! I will totally watch that boob scene in Titanic and I will not avert my eyes!

It’s also probably because I’m lazy. And those things take effort. Not a ton, but honestly, I’m supremely lazy. I mean, really, do I have to flip over the DVD cover to see if it’s rated-R? And honestly, why should I hunt around for something else to do on a Friday when everyone I know is already going to the club down the road to engage in closer-than-a-quad dancing to music that is highly inappropriate? And do I really want to think of a bunch of silly phrases to say instead of swearing? Nah--too much work.

Not that any of this is an excuse. It’s my own admission of my lazy reluctance to do what I’m supposed to do. And I think most people have their things that they just don’t want to do, for whatever reasons. And isn’t that part of the point of this life? To look at all that stuff that is soooo much fun, soooo convenient, or soooo much easier and then suck it up, to prove your obedience to the Lord and your faith in His ways? I doubt I’ll ever understand what’s so inherently terrible about an eyebrow piercing or a tattoo, but I’m sure I’ll eventually understand that by following the counsel on this, my life will be blessed. Arguably less pretty and decorated, but blessed none the less. And that’s called growth. And that’s a good thing.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005 

The Language Or The Kiss

I have been thinking about this topic for a LONG time. Honestly, this is one of the topics that most intrigued me when we got our list of upcoming topics (a little behind the scenes at VSoM for ya ;) ) but even though I was intrigued, I didn't have a clue what I would write about. In a way, I still don't. So bear with me here as we have a bit of a stream of conscience post today.

I guess the biggest "false idol" I have is money. It's not that I worship it, it's not that I want lots and lots of it, more it's just that money is the one thing that can send me plummeting over the edge of reason and into the depths of insanity. Seriously, POOR DUSTIN! I have been an absolute WRECK about money since the MOMENT we got engaged. And let me tell you, it's like the whole financial world has been trying to thwart my happiness. Every single time I get to a point where I think, you know, we're gonna be okay... something TRAGIC happens to our bank account. Last night while driving to a friends house to barrow a drill Dustin and I had a long talk about our finances. I told him flat out that I wanted him to take the checkbook away from me and make sense of our financial situation. He smiled at me and said, "Sure! I'd be happy to do that. But you have to promise not to FREAK OUT whenever things are tight." Honestly, if we have less than $200 in the bank I start to hyperventalate. So, I promised. And we'll see how things go.

More than false idols though, I think it's the pet sins that we have that keep us down. Everyone has them, and everyone struggles with them. If you didn't have a pet sin (a sin you love and hate) then you would be translated. Personally, mine is cussing. Probably the worst thing since I am a writer and a talker and should have just that much more respect for language. But I love me some cuss words. It's just one of those things. I grew up in a house where cussing was normal - we all did it, no big deal. And I have never once had a problem with someone else cussing (whatever blows your hair back has been a mantra of mine). That is until a few weeks ago when my husband to be said "bitch". I seriously almost came out of my skin! And we got into an argument about it (he didn't call me one, or anyone else one for that matter, it was just the fact that IT CAME OUT OF HIS MOUTH AT ALL!) and he told me that if I could say it he could say it. I promptly shot back that it wasn't within his charecter to say it... it's just NOT something HE would say because he is GOOD, and WONDERFUL, and LOVELY! - it was something I would say!! He thought about it for a second and agreed that was true. But then, he looked at me and said, "But really, you shouldn't be saying it either." And so, once again, my struggle with foul language is going strong. How do you not say "shit!" when you stub your toe? I mean, seriously!

I have other pet sins, as everyone does. But there are some that you struggle with more. Some that you have a REAL hard time letting go of. Those pet sins, those things we know are wrong, but can't help doing anyway no matter how big or small they are, those are the things we really worship, the idols we pray to. It's just a matter of growth, a matter of learning day by day to let things of this world go and change into someone a little bit more like our Heavenly Father. It's about learning to worship the true Lord of all, and not just the lords of right now.

Monday, August 15, 2005 

The Sad Story of a Wanna-be Fashion Icon

Well, this will be personal. And I acknowledge that as I honestly share these personal foibles, I am laying myself wide open to your scorn and judgment. Judge away…I’m not scared. I’m not proud either. But I will answer the question honestly, and I hope that you will share your experiences, too…

I worship fashion.


I worship Chanel. More pointedly, I worship Carl Lagerfeld, the strange little man that he is.

Carl you genious you

Valentino coat

I worship colored satin, beads, sequins, and fringe. I covet Valentino dresses, and by association, I covet Alec Wek’s shining ebony skin and her long… impossibly long… legs.

Alec Wek

I love clothes. I love Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, Delia’s, Deseret Industries, the Salvation Army, Nordstrom, and hot jeans. I really love clothes. They don’t have to be expensive, but it’s OK if they are. I will pay a lot for a little cotton, a little sparkle, and a good drape.

When I was in junior high, I worshiped labels: guess, Outback Red, Forenza, Limited, and other crap like that. I couldn’t help it. My dad works in retail and we got a huge discount at the department stores, so the only clothes my family of 9 could actually afford were the nice department store brands.

I have judged people by their clothes. WAIT!!! Let me explain! It’s probably not what you think! I didn’t think less of anyone for wearing what I considered un-stylish, neither did I think more of someone for wearing something I liked. Rather, it’s been a life long guessing game. “Why those shoes? Did they make a conscious decision to pay money for those particular pants? Why did they choose the cut of that shirt?” I would put together a story.

Clothes tell a story. Sometimes it’s a good story; sometimes it’s a sad story. People choose their clothes to say something about themselves. To the vast majority of people, they WANT their clothes to say something about themselves, even if it’s “I don’t want my clothes to say much about me.”

There are problems with worshiping fashion:

1. It’s pretty much totally unimportant in the grand scheme of things…especially in things eternal (although I will point out that clothing has a VERY important role in temple worship.)

2. What I consider beautiful is not always what I consider modest.

3. A lot of clothes look best on small (thin) people…this creates a whole lot of problems that we needn’t go into right now…OK we will a little, false sense of reality, distorted sense of beauty, eating disorders, disappointment, etc…

4. Then there’s Isaiah 3: 16-26 Here are some of my favorite excerpts:

“Moreover the Lord saith, Because they daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet;…” (doesn’t this sound EXACTLY like the catwalk?)

“And it shall come to pass, that instead of a sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and a burning instead of beauty.”

I really do love the last half of that chapter. It puts me in my place every time. It’s like when you have a tooth ache and you can’t stop touching it with your tongue… I know it’s my weakness so I like to read it again and again.

I have to work hard to not spend money on clothes. I know that it’s not important. I get queasy when I think that the only reason the Mia Maids think I’m cool is because I wear nice clothes. I have a testimony, too. And I worked hard to make sure the Activity Day girls knew that. It’s OK to dress nice, and stylish, and modest, but it’s not OK to be obsessed, unless it’s my job. So maybe I need a new career and then my obsession will be justified?

Saturday, August 13, 2005 

I married my sister

I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules for marriage; doesn’t matter what rules or guidelines you come up with, there are always a lot of exceptions. I’m not going to look them up, but I’d like to see some numbers on just how well marrying young works; my impression is that the younger you marry, the more likely marriage is to fail. VL and I married at a goodly age for Mormons, but rather young compared to everyone else. When a non-mormon finds out how long we’ve been married, they say, “Wow, you married really young.” I was home from a mission, we dated for six months, were engaged for seven. We were totally clueless and married for love. It’s all nice and romantic, but romance only gets you so far. Things are excellent now, but we’ve had some really rough times, mostly because we married too young.

It may just be me, but Mormon culture, in encouraging early marriage, the whole thing seems romanticized. You meet, you fall in love, some feeling from on high gives you a thumbs-up and you get married. It’s done without every really knowing the other person, without knowing what kind of person they really are. And with a lot of people in college now, you haven’t really become anyone yet until after college, until you’ve started down the career path. In just a short amount of time you can become a vastly different person. That transition can put a real strain on marriage, and the younger you marry, the further you are from becoming who you will become.

Reading the posts from Sarah and Carrie Ann, they approached marriage with much more wisdom than I did. I think waiting is good advice, but not something that must be done. I wonder, in Mormon culture, the encouragement to marry young, what really is the reason behind it? The cynic in me says that it’s designed to get people in a church sanctioned intimate relationship before they “mess up” and get into non-sanctioned intimate relationships. And also, I think it’s much easier to stay active in the church once you are married. I don’t have time to look them up, but the numbers should be out there, and the scientist in me wants to know, is there any real advantage to marrying young or waiting?

If you are wondering, I didn’t marry my sister. I’m in a rush and I couldn’t come up with a more fitting title. But I guess since people in church called her Sister VL, then she was my sister. Weird

Thursday, August 11, 2005 

They Just Keep Getting Younger

I think the youth of the church get married WAY too early. Indeed, I was married (with a youngster) at age 19, but I think that just proves my point. But I am not your “typical” LDS Wedding Story. In fact, over the past year, I’ve thought about this topic a lot. I am happily married with two beautiful children and therefore PROMOTE marriage and all of it’s glory, but I sincerely believe that the timeline set forth by tradition, culture (a reason to have sex) has been placed WAY to early in life.

There is so much pressure for LDS youth to get married. Earlier this week, Sarah mentioned how she thought that she lacked worth for not being married around the same time as all her friends. Knowing Sarah like I do…I watched this struggle. The ironic thing is that I also watched her having so much fun being single, which I don’t think she realized. She had some pretty dang cool experiences because she had that time before she met “her match” in life. Growing experiences that will only benefit her marriage.

I am now watching several of my brother’s friends (and I’m speaking about the girls) and their quest to catch a husband. It is slightly disturbing to see. Not unlike when I was younger, these girls of 18 and 19 are so focused on the need to find that husband that there is absolutely no focus on being their own person and really living for themselves. It makes one wonder whether there had been much progression from the 1800’s. Please note that I am NOT saying that all LDS girls/women completely give up their identity to marry young and start popping out kids…but I DO think that there is precious little focus on developing into the woman who will be the wife and mother BEFORE she’s a wife and mother.

I truly hope that I am raising my two girls in such a way that they will want to develop and grow into their own person before they marry. I want them to discover what it is that truly makes them happy so that they don’t look to someone (and perhaps get married) to rely on that person to do that job for them. It just doesn’t work like that. The blessings and the joy that comes from being married are many. However, it is my opinion that too many LDS folks think that “LIFE” will start once they are married.

Life TOGETHER starts on the day you are married. Just don’t forget about life as YOU.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005 

Another Bride, Another Groom, Another Sunny Honeymoon

We ask that you excuse Mrs. Kaycee from blogging this week (and next for that matter) as she is currently honeymooning with her new spouse, Felix, somewhere on an isle of the sea. Many congratulations to Kaycee and Felix on their wedding, and much luck and happiness to them in the future!

If anyone is interested in guest blogging in her place next week, please shoot me an email at sarahmarinara(at) Next week we will be talking about our own personal false gods and idols. So, if you have something to say, let me know and we will be happy to work something out.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005 

Love Is Just Like Breathing When It's True

I am getting married in 16 days.

I am 27 years old.

I LOVE that I am and 27 years old and getting married in 16 days.

True, every moment of these 27 years hasn't been me all smilely and happy, just waiting for Mr. Right to come along. There has been pain, heartbreak and the numerous other things that help you grow and develope as a human being. I wouldn't trade any of it.

On Sunday I stood and bore my testimony. I didn't think I would ever say that whole, "This is my last fast Sunday in this ward because I'm getting married" testimony thing. But I did. I bore my testimony of what I know is true - that Heavenly Father loves us, and wants good things for us, and gives us what we need when we are ready for it. Dustin and I have talked numerous times about how we wouldn't have even given each other a second look had the timeing of our relationship not been so perfect. Heavenly Father knows what he is doing.

If there is one regret I have, it is the years I spent thinking that I somehow lacked worth because I wasn't married. From the time I was 20 to 21 all of my very close friends were married (they being of the same age as I) . I felt terrible that I couldn't get a DATE let alone find someone who would want to marry me. At 24 I was breifly engaged to a pretty not nice guy simply because I thought there was no one else who would marry me. Luckily, I came to my senses about that and called the whole thing off. The day after the call off, my good friend Paul gave me a blessing. It told me that the time for me to be married was short at hand, and I would be surrounded by more love than I had ever imagined possible. I almost thought I would walk outside and there would be a handsome man with roses waiting to wisk me off to the temple and love me for eternity. But he wasn't waiting outside the door for me, he didn't show up for another 3 years. But what I was told in that blessing (and subsiquent blessings) holds true. I have been loved more than I ever thought humanly possible. I don't deserve the amount of kindness and affection Dustin gives me every day.

I am very happy that I have had 27 years of my life to figure out who I am. I am coming into my marriage with a knowledge of my worth, a strongly defined sense of self and a deep appreciation for the man I will call my husband. I honestly don't believe that I could have brought these things to the table if I was to have married at 20 or 21. I am very happy that I have waited to this age, through these life experiances, to become a wife.

If I could change one thing it would have been this... the length of my engagement. From "will you?" to "I Do" will be four months. I NEVER thought I would be engaged this long, and let me tell you, it has not been very fun. I think I could easily advocate the two week engagement. Sure, Dustin and I would have only known each other a month at that point, but honestly, it would have been a WHOLE lot easier than the last three months. ANYTHING would have been eaiser than that. :)

Monday, August 08, 2005 

Just Wait…

Generally, we like what we know. However, I highly doubt that there are many of us who would say, “I wish I had gotten married younger” or “I wish we hadn’t dated so long”.

Officially, the Church gives some very general counsel regarding when to get married and to whom. Basically, we are encouraged to date and marry someone of our faith; someone who is worthy to go to the temple. We are encouraged to get to know the person well through dating and spending time with one another before getting married.

Through auxiliary programs like Young Womens and Young Mens we are encouraged to not date until we are 16, to not date seriously/exclusively until later (after missions), and to have longer courtships rather than long engagements (people have different interpretations of this counsel). Anything beyond this counsel is cultural and/or personal, and while I AM interested in hearing what someone’s Young Women’s leader or mother or roommate told them, I will regard it as cultural influence and not Mormon doctrine….and that includes that one Brigham Young quote about males becoming menaces to society after the age of 27.

I got married at 25. I think that is a great age to get married, if not a little on the young side.

To be honest, I was a little surprised that I didn’t meet the love of my life my freshman or sophomore year at college. Looking back I’m not surprised, but back then I was. You see, my mother had gotten married at 19. In my realm of understanding, I thought that’s how things were done. It had worked out well for her. I just thought…

There is some sort of Mormon culture myth that says that college is the proper time to get married. Granted, for a lot of us (not all of us) college is the time where we are around a lot of other like-religioned people of the opposite sex. But Heaven’s sake, now that I am an adult…marriage is the LAST thing I want my college kids thinking about. Sure they can meet someone, but I would rather have them wait to get married until after 25 or graduation, which ever comes first.

Here’s why…

I want my kids to be focused on doing well in school. I want them to have no regrets about what they studied or how well they did. Life and education do not end after a bachelor’s degree, and while I want them to have FUN, I also want them to have options if they want them later.

Also, having a job or a career is one of the most valuable life experiences a person can bring to a relationship, male AND female. I really want my kids to experience and enjoy work. I want them to learn to be independent of parents, family, and friends. I want them to BE somebody, meaning, I want them to figure out who they are BEFORE they get married. I want my kids to understand the Gospel as young single people with testimonies of their own. I want them to see how they fit into the Gospel as single adults, because they do…and I want them to be comfortable with that. Because I was, and that’s what I know.

Nothing is more frustrating than relying on the Lord’s timetable, but in my wait, I gained a testimony of right time, right place, right person. I spent a lot of time on my knees then, trying to understand God’s will for me…I learned how to rely on the Lord for comfort and guidance, not on a boyfriend or even on parents.

I am SO thankful for the time I spent as a single adult in the Church, to find my place. I am SO grateful that I had the opportunity to work, to manage my own money, to gain experience, and to figure out who I was before I became someone’s wife and partner.

If it had happened another way, I’m sure I would have been fine, even great…but I will encourage my kids to wait. I don’t want them to bow to some antiquated cultural pressure to get married young. I want my kids to be ready. Gees, at 25, I was barely ready. I would have liked to have done a couple more things before Todd came along, but I also knew that the timing was right. He was the right person at the right time. And I chose him over those couple of other things I wanted to get done. And I’m glad I did. I have never regretted that.

Cutting the Cake

Saturday, August 06, 2005 

sixteen, clumsy and shy

I didn’t make the eagle. I’m generally not motivated by awards and stuff, and besides, how far am I going to get if there is no merit badge for sarcasm? If some of it had been presented for the intrinsic benefits, I might have given it more of a go; but dangling a piece of cloth and the assurance that, one day, some beady-eyed manager was going to give me a job because I was an eagle scout—good heavens, I was way to lazy, way to rebellious to buy into that.

I’m almost stunned, I really had my eyes opened by posts and comments made by the women this week. I never really thought about how this stuff plays out differently for boys and girls. I’m sure in there somewhere, what with the effort to protect and enhance the innocence and spirituality of girls, the need to keep them protected from the evils of the world while the boys, a boy is just a scoundrel who must prove himself, eat rabbits and berries for a week and then build a dam and we throw a big party, because hooray! now he’s worth something!— that’s got to have enough material for at least one lengthy graduate thesis. Bottom line, the programs for boys and girls ought to be more equitable, especially the ceremonies honoring them.

So I never got my eagle. Even with all the stuff I’ve done since then, it still comes up from time to time and I think my parents are still disappointed. Maybe that’s part of why I’m ambivalent on the issue. I like the idea of learning things, doing service projects, engagement with spirituality. I’m not so hip on the structure (or I wasn’t then. For some reason, I think doing merit badges now, as an adult, would be kind of fun.) I was hoping more would be said about the girl scouts. I don’t know much about them, but from what little I’ve heard, if I had daughters I’d encourage them to get involved with the girl scouts.

Friday, August 05, 2005 

I was a Boy Scout drop out

Well folks, this week's topic has inspired me. I have actually gone out and done research (not much and all of it on the internet (the source of all half-truth)). I am going to share with you the fruits of my labors: I went looking for that one list of demands that I heard that one time that Young Ladies in the church used to be asked to do.

Here is a version of it from the young women's site:

Some Requirements for Beehive Girls in 1916

1. Have a party with from 8 to 12 persons, with refreshments that cost no more than a dollar—and keep accounts.

2. Learn to float in the Great Salt Lake. Propel yourself 50 feet. Learn to get on your feet unassisted.

3. Without help or advice, care for and harness a team of horses at least five times. Drive 50 miles in one season.

4. Care successfully for a hive of bees for one season, and know their habits.

5. Pack a horse successfully.

6. Build a tree house sufficiently large for two girls to sleep in.

7. Pick 800 pounds of cherries or their equivalent in any six days.

8. Clear sagebrush, etc., off half an acre of land.

9. Identify 12 kinds of lace and tell the reasonable price and appropriate use of each.

10. Raise three trees that bear food which attracts birds in winter.

Fascinating, isn't it. (What is perhaps more fascinating is that on this same page, Elder Holland's face has been featured in a caption for an article written by Janette Hales, making it look as if the webmaster was a tad confused, but that is neither here nor there).

Additionally, a website on Personal Progress (that won't let me quote it) tells us that the Beehive Girls program was introduced to be a counterpart to the Boy Scouts. As you can see from the above requirements, both organizations were interested in nature (surviving it and domesticating it).

Obviously, Personal Progress isn't terribly interested in getting the girls outdoors anymore (Girl's camp clearly is, but, from all the information I have gleaned from listening to sister, wife, mother, and other Young Women, it is basically an attempt to have a better testimony meeting by taking people on exhausting hikes first (please feel free to correct me if I am wrong here).

I once thought that the recitation of the YW's values was spooky, the sorta thing that the Nazi youth would engage in. As the YW were not discernably more righteous than we young men, I was unsure as to the purpose of the chant and it affected my basketball.

As for Scouting, as stated in the title, I was a Boy Scout drop out. I earned my First Class rank and decided that it clearly couldn't get any better than that. Or rather, I didn't care about making Eagle, I seriously doubted that any future employer would care whether or not I was an Eagle, and I didn't care about the annual steak dinner which was the only perceivable benefit of earning an Eagle (oh, I forgot the other benefit, which would be that it would please my mother, another factor unfortunately low on my teenage list of priorities).

I knew how to camp. I knew how to bind a wound. I knew that if a rattlesnake bit me and I was alone, I was a goner. What other possible purpose could Boy Scouts serve?

The truth is that the equivalent to Boy Scouts is not the current Personal Progress program; it is the Beehive girls program from the 1910's. I don't know why but the Young Women's leaders seemed to figure out that Scouting, though fun, doesn't really do anything for the spirituality of its participants by itself. The wholesale integration of Scouting into the LDS youth program is fine, but the program (honorable as it may be) isn't inherently anymore spiritual than a basketball youth league. The Church was hoping that the Spirit could be introduced into it, and I believe that this can happen, but often times it ain't. My Scout Leader was (and is) a great guy and one of the better Latter-day Saints I know, but the glories of the revealed gospel just didn't come up that much as we ran around in the woods.

Which is why, as has been pointed out, the new Duty to God program is a much better equivalent to the Personal Progress program. It actually is trying to help the Young Men gain spirituality (as opposed to other, more paramilitary, traits). It isn't over until you get that mission call (as I understand it). It is a better program overall for the church. I just think that they ought to bring back the original Beehive Girls and make the Young Men do that stuff, too (I could do with 800 pounds of cherries myself).

So, to recap, Personal Progress is a better program than Boy Scouts for spiritual growth. Why does the Eagle get more airplay? Sexism (a topic for another post) and further attempts to boost the male ego. Is the Duty to God program better? Yes. Do Young Men have to recite the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood now? Yes (at least, they do in my stake, I think). Is it as creepy as the Young Women reciting the Spiritual Values? Yes, yes. It still is.

Finally, brief histories of the Young Women's and the Young Men's programs can be found here and here, respectively.

Thursday, August 04, 2005 

But What About the Girls???

When Paige was small, we were at my grandparents house (for Thanksgiving, I think) while my aunt and uncle were in town. Everyone was doing there own thing when my dad called everyone into the living room. Before I knew it, my dad started to give this little speech about feeling bad about not making a bigger deal certain things and how proud he was. Of me. And presented me a plaque with one of my senior portraits side by side with the Young Womanhood Recognition emblem and theme.

To recognize me for receiving my YW Recognition.

I was stunned. I hadn’t expected that. But I was so very, very touched. And I cried.

Several months ago, there was something called a “Court of Honor” for my little brother, Jordan, for completing his Eagle Scout and all that goes with it. There were invitations sent, programs made, desserts organized and a big production planned. I was part of it all…and I was so proud of it all.

The night before Jordan’s EVENT…my dad pulled me aside to tell me how bad he felt that we were doing so much for the Court of Honor and that he still thought we didn’t do enough for when I earned my awards in YW. While he’s right, NO ONE really “honored” the gals in my stake that all earned their awards around the same time, I don’t want him to feel bad. That won’t change anything. However, it does BUG ME that so many young women work so dang hard (both in the Personal Progress and camp programs) and all they get is a Standard’s Night with recognition for all the girls in the stake who earned there awards within a few months of each other or within that same year.

Total bunk if you ask me.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I couldn’t enter into the armed forces as an officer for receiving my YW medallions like you can if you’re an Eagle Scout. I’ve accepted this and moved on. I’m also not-so-secretly glad that I never have to wear that color of green/tan combo.

And I honestly don’t want my dad to feel bad about not making a bigger deal for me. Really, I don’t. But dang, maybe I should’ve held out for…like, a shopping trip…or a spa day…or…something else equally “womanly” to go with my “womanly” award/recognition….or lack thereof.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005 

Mormon Scouting & the Young Womanhood Way

My dad is currently at the National Boy Scout Jamboree in Virginia--he loves the Boy Scouts. He came to love the Boy Scouts when he was called to be a Scoutmaster in our ward.

For a while, before he had training, he just went along as best he could. After he got some training from the local Council, he began to see some flaws in the way things were being done in the Ward Troop. He started to change those things... being less lax about the wearing of uniforms, more strict on how merit badges were completed, less playing basketball and more working towards goals. He was met with resistance.

About this time, my brother was working through the program. He was 12 or 13. With my parents' guidance (and the guidance was considerable) he submitted his eagle project for review days before he turned 14. After this, his interest in scouting became nil. My dad was released from his calling as scoutmaster shortly thereafter.

My dad, however, didn't give it up. He began working within the "Order of the Arrow" organization and moved upwards in the scouting organization. He has received several area awards and 2 national awards in scouting.

This is really just my way of saying... I know what I'm talking about when it comes to the Boy Scouts in the LDS Church.

First... I have to say that it is different than it is outside of the church. Boys are "made" to go because that's their youth activity, whereas boys attending outside of the church are more likely to be attending by their own volition. It is also different because the adults in charge outside of the LDS church are usually better trained and stay in the job longer than those in the church because they volunteer.

Secondly... Because of these things, I think the commitment level of all involved is lower than outside of the church. Because of this, "Mormon Scouting" is often looked down on by those outside of the church. Case in point--Far far fewer scouters in the LDS church have their Eagles than those in troops that aren't LDS.

Third... Sometimes to rectify that situation, people are actually called to be Eagle Scout specialists to help get some kids to the Eagle Scout level. (Only saying it because it happened in my ward and the results--scouts having work done for them--made my dad pretty upset).

Because of this, I have to respect the Young Women's program in the church quite a bit. I received all of the awards possible and my Laurel projects were memorable and important to me (well... at least 3 of the 4 are... I cross-stitched the Young Women's theme, adopted a cemetery plot and worked at the bishop's storehouse-alongside JP and Sarah Marinara).

It took me 5.5 years to complete my Young Womanhood Recognition and my brother only took 2 years to get his Eagle? How can that be equal? We went to the same number of meetings and did a similar amount of work in the end... but mine took 3.5 years longer.

That just doesn't seem fair. I also completed 6 years of Girls' Camp requirements.

I think they should combine recognition and do a super-award for the girls who do 6 years of camp requirements AND get the Young Womanhood Recognition. Maybe then it would be fair?

Oh yeah... it still only takes the guys 2 years to do it. Never mind... it's never going to be fair.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005 

You May Not See It When It's Sticking To Your Skin, But We're Better Off For All That We Let In

I received my medalions for completing my personal progress and Yong Woman Recognition. Honestly, while it might not have been the most challanging, or the most well put together of programs (there was definently room for improvement, and I think like many programs in the Church it is evolving), but I learned A LOT, and am very grateful for the experiance.

I am one of those people Carrie Ann spoke about in her comment that needed the social interaction, not because I was a social butterfly, but because of my HORRIFYING social awkwardness. My parents didn't instill social values in me. I had NO IDEA how to behave in situations, and it was often embarrasing for me and the people I was with. Being involved in the personal progress program actually did what is said it was going to - I progressed personally. I learned about a miriad of things - goal setting, manners and etiquette, friendship, trust, faith not only in something divine, but in myself.

I remember very clearly sobbing like a child when my YW President explained my Laurel Projects to the congregation at the recognition ceremony (the one thing I don't understand is why they lump all the YW together when they receive their awards, but Eagle Scouts get thier own personal court of honor... but I digress). I had worked A LOT on four projects that were difficult, extreamly personally trying and immensely rewarding. My parents weren't active in the church at the time, so it was without their support that I did this. I am really grateful for those experiances though. I am thankful that I had the chance to learn about myself, about what I could actually DO, about the person I would grow to be someday.

I don't feel much different than that 17 year old girl who stood sobbing when someone mentioned the good she had done. I still have the same friends, I still cry when someone tells me I did something really well, and I am trying to work on being the best version of me. My progress continues, and will continue for a LONG time - eternity me thinks. But I am really glad that I was able to have the YW's program to give me a guide for the rest of my life. Will I EVER wear the necklaces I receive, um, NO.... but I am glad I have them. I'm glad I finished the goals I set for myself. It's something I try to do even now, and I think a lot of that is because of the Personal Progress program.

Monday, August 01, 2005 

Separate but Equal?...You Decide

Young Womanhood Recognition vs. Eagle Scout Award
August 1, 2005

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints utilizes the Boy Scouts of America program for the young men ages 8-18. Basically, all the young men are automatically members of the local congregation’s scout troop. Tithing money pays the dues for all member scouts, and while all boys in the area are eligible to participate in the troop, non-LDS young men would pay their own dues. Members of the congregation are called to serve as “den-parents” and scout leaders. The young men earn badges and stuff, and do all the normal scouting stuff (former scout readers please comment) with the end goal of receiving their Eagle Scout Award.

For the young ladies of the Church, they participate in the Primary organization in a group called “Activity Days” from the ages of 8-11. While in Activity Days the girls participate in the “Faith in God” program. (The 8-11 year old boys can earn their Faith in God award and it is integrated into their scouting requirements). When the young ladies turn 12 they enter the youth program of the Church, aptly titled the “Young Women’s Organization”. In Young Womens (as is it grammatically incorrectly called) the girls participate in a program called “Personal Progress” until they are 18 with the end goal of receiving their “Young Woman Recognition Award.”

(I just recently learned that the adult woman’s organization, the “Relief Society” also has a goal program called “Pursuit of Excellence”, and it is quite interesting…)

Growing up in the Church, I set many a goal in my day. You must complete goals in every program. Since my nature is to be lazy, I grew up feeling like I always had something hanging over my head: a Faith in God goal, a personal progress goal, etc.

The Church creates these programs so that we can learn self motivation and self improvement. The underlying purpose is to build testimonies of the Savior. I think goal setting is good; I think it is healthy…it just goes against my lazy, lazy nature.

There is some argument that the Young Woman Recognition Award is the equivalent to the Eagle Scout Award. This is debatable (hence the reason for the topic choice…).

Of note, my very own grandmother, Jean Green, was on the Church Correlation Board that created the modern Young Women’s Personal Progress program. Some members of the Young Women’s General Presidency at the time wanted to focus on themes like “Behold, Your Handmaiden”, and it was people like my grandma who stood up and said, “Neither my self nor my daughters are handmaidens to anyone…they are daughters of God, and should respect themselves as such!” Thanks, Grandma!

The current program focuses on the following areas: faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice & accountability, good works, and integrity. While these are great and fine and noble…I DO wish that we had a little more of the scouting grit…more camping…more outdoor skills. After all, aren’t we all supposed to trek out to Missouri sometime? Faith will only get me so far…

So now that I’ve explained a little of the topic, I want our readers and commentators to comment with their own stories of the Church’s youth program. Let it be glorious, tragic, hilarious, what-have-you… You former scouts out there must give us your input…do we Young Womanhood Medallion holders measure up? I will be adding my two bits in the comments as well…

Behold the Gold

The scouts may have gotten badges for completing goals, but we got BLING! Behold the gold. I hope someone comments on the fact that some Church leaders have admonished young women to wear their Young Womanhood medallions with pride (some have criticized this as “Look how righteous I am!"), or to only consider marrying young men who received their Eagle Scout award (and vice versa: only marry young women with their medallions). Let's discuss...

P.S. I didn't really complete any goals...I bought all those medallions on e-Bay...phew!

This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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