Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Thursday, January 5, 2017
Social networking, video consumption, and music/podcasts are especially popular with younger smartphone owners
Young users are particularly likely to use a smartphone to avoid boredom — and ignore other people (Pew Research Center, April 2015 http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/01/us-smartphone-use-in-2015/).
My youngest brother, Rusty, was in town over the New Years weekend to visit. All of us went to see the new Star Wars movie. (Loved it!) Rusty's "special friend" Rondi came too. After the movie, I remembered one of the previews (not another Wolverine movie!) hearing that Nine Inch Nails song covered by...what was his name?
If only I had a smartphone so I could Google it while we waited for the rest of our party outside the movie theater restrooms. Because I'm still living in the desktop age, I would have to wait I got home to research this query (Johnny Cash). With a mental sigh, I glanced over at my youngest brother and Rondi, both fixed on their smartphones. All this information at our fingertips, and they're using it to share cat videos.
Instead of talking to each other, Rusty and Rondie were using some new app called Mutual to post funny pics to each other and all their common friends. Both insisted this wasn't a date, yet I wondered if this is how young folks, like my brother and his friends, view dating these days-using their smartphones to avoid boredom.
I know this has been written and lemented about before but come on people! Let's make a New Year's Resolution not only to spend more face to face time with those we love, but to use our smartphones to improve our minds. There are so many cool facts and new things to learn and discover.
Take the movie we just saw. Peter Cushing is DEAD! How did they resurrect him to play Governor Tarkin? And what about Carrie Fisher? And where can I find a copy of New Hope on Blu-ray?
Don't worry, I looked all this up when I got home. But I really should upgrade one of these days. Perhaps while I'm on my next date!
Now for your homework assignment. President Nelson is going to speak at a Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults. This includes singles. President Nelson has asked we all read D&C 84:43-45. Perhaps he'll have some earth shattering advice for us. Now pull up your scripture app and get started!
Thursday, October 13, 2016
All the books in Gerald Lund's Work and the Glory series. Finished!
All the books in Ron Carter's Prelude to Glory series, Alexander Hamilton references included!
Sweet Valley High author, Francine Pascal's side project, Caitlin, a teen romance series.
Saturday, May 28, 2016
In her first article, Suzette gives singles a challenge to "Tell a New Story" and share it with other members that everyone might be strengthened in their testimonies of Christ. As single members who struggle to remain active in a church that celebrates eternal marriage and family, we are painfully aware of our label as the "square pegs" who just don't fit into those perfectly round (eternal) holes. No one takes us seriously. We are the outliers, the single points distant or separated from a main group for various reasons. Yet, singles should not let the condescending remarks and attitudes of "the marrieds" bother them. This is not an "Us against Them" debate. Our unique positions and lifestyles in the church give never-married singles the opportunity to grow and increase in wisdom; especially in our unique relationship with God, our family, friends and with ourselves.
Singles in the church who are active yet never-married have a unique understanding of loneliness. Living the chaste, wholesome life required by the gospel is not easy. Everything we do, every choice we make, (including abstaining from pre-marital sex which the world scoffs at,) is done without fanfare and without supervision. Gone is the cute, naive teenager, we stand on our own testimonies now, survivors, living life as best we can as fully grown adults, entirely on our own.We face solitary daily work and household chores, yet find time to serve and socialize with our friends. Most of us returning home every night to an empty residence. We worship on Sundays, often sitting alone, yet find joy in fulfilling our church callings, traveling, spending time with friends and family, pursuing new interests and hobbies, obtaining all the education we can.
This is not the life we would've chosen for ourselves. Or even our worst enemies. It wasn't supposed to be this way. Everywhere we go in the church, after all the individual ordinances have been met: baptism, gift of the holy ghost, and temple ordinances (up to a point) we are reminded that those who lack the final crowning achievement in our eternal progression-temple marriage-remain incomplete. This puts us in a very unique situation that isn't always acknowledged by church leaders and teachers or even family members.
According to Kristine Haglund, we live in "The Borderlands," a lonely place in the church where individual outcasts wander all by themselves. It's not as depressing as it sounds. Our solitary confinement gives us the unique opportunity for greater understanding of what Suzette calls, "Peaceful or Sacred Holiness" finding wholeness in our incomplete state. We are not "broken," and just because we lack spouses doesn't mean we are unlovable. "In our lonely places, we reach out to God and come to know His love, peace and virtues more intimately. We are made whole by this close connection." (Suzette, "Dear Single Members," Exponent II, May, 2016) By our example and teaching, by telling our story, we can help others come closer to God.
In my mind, I'm suddenly picturing never-married singles in the church as these awesome robed and hooded Obi-Wan Kenobis: medieval and wise Holy Men and Women of the desert, to whom all the Luke Skywalkers seek out for wisdom and advice. Those who have found peace and wholeness in their solitary confinement need to share this information with the world.
Singles should own their borderland spaces. We can tell a New Story of how our testimonies and understanding of the nature of God has been increased through the "peaceful holiness" we've achieved through our years of learning how live happy and fulfilling lives-without being married.
While I have seen more acceptance and understanding toward singles in the church, singles still need to claim our "Borderland" spaces, making them our own by telling our stories; for "Zion's borders must be enlarged," (D&C 82:14).
As an unmarried single with no children, loneliness is an adjective I am all too familiar with. The challenge of how to endure loneliness without becoming increasingly bitter, especially towards God, is a personal trial and challenge I face daily. Peaceful Holiness is a nirvana I have yet to achieve. I'm no Obi-Wan, but I'm trying. I acknowledge the unique blessings that come from living the law of chastity but temple attendance for me is hard. I find myself challenging Elder Holland's reassurance in the recent Face to Face event that young single adults in the church are loved.
We are not loved, Elder Holland. That's why we're single.
It is then I must pause and reflect. As the spirit reminds me of the many people in my life who mean so much to me and I to them. I realize, I am loved. My nephews tell me this all the time, as well as close friends and family members. I am grateful for the many opportunities I have to serve others. Since quitting my food service job, which required working Sundays, moving back in with my mom and step-dad and finding part-time work, I would have no reason to keep attending church if I wasn't allowed to keep my records and continue to attend my old ward with my married sister's family. For me, church attendance is just too painful when you have to sit alone so I am grateful I have people to share a pew with. I still don't know why I was never blessed with a career that would allow me to use my two bachelors degrees so I could live more independently or why I was never asked to my high school prom. I still don't know the reason why I was born or where my place is in this world but I'll continue to pay my tithing, sing in the ward choir and spend time with my nephews who bring me such joy.
What I have learned being single is this: when we stop to count our blessings, we don't feel so alone and ostracized after all. That is the only cure I know for combating loneliness-keeping busy with work and hobbies and spending time with those we love.
I continue to wait upon the Lord.
That is my story.
Saturday, March 19, 2016
On March 8, 2016 a rare opportunity was given to all young single adult (YSA) members of the church (generally in the 18-31 age range) to post, tweet and Facebook specific thoughts, stories and questions which would be personally addressed and responded to in a live event by three prominent church leaders, including an apostle of the Lord.
Who wouldn't be excited? It was like an exclusive general conference session. Just for us!
Three previous Face to Face events had featured minor LDS celebrities answering questions: Piano Guys, Lindsey Sterling, David Archuleta. On January 20 of this year, a special Face to Face for LDS Youth was held.
Now, at long last, it was our turn. We were finally being acknowledged.
Over three-thousand (Three-THOUSAND!) thoughts and questions were posted. Some were more youth-related, "How can I strengthen my testimony, get more out of my scripture study, help less active friends and family come unto Christ, put down my phone to prepare for a mission or date with God's plan for me in mind?"
The real "meaty" ones addressed issues pertaining to church doctrine. Was Jesus married? How can we have kids in the next life? If my temple-married parents divorced, who am I sealed to if one parent remarries in the temple? Same-sex attraction, pornography addiction, aging-out of the YSA program and feeling like a failure for not being married with a family.
Some of the more interesting ones which should've been addressed (but weren't) included:
A woman has reached a "certain age" who never felt the need to serve a mission, she feels stuck in a singles ward with no marriage prospects thanks to skewed numbers. When should she take out her own temple endowments?
Should a man struggling with addictions even bother to keep looking for a worthy temple companion when he feels so inadequate?
A woman is frustrated by the "dating crisis," she feels all the men in her singles ward (RMs especially) don't want to date, they just want NCMO, (non-committal-make-out) any advice?
Regarding the "dating crisis" among YSA, the real issue no one wants to address is that in most first-world countries, 21st century dating now equals premarital sex. Young adults of the world don't "date." They don't even have "boy/girlfriends" anymore. Instead, couples refer to themselves as, "We're seeing each other." or "We're together." Meaning they're having sex with maybe an occasional date on the side. Hopefully, one day, they will move in together and that will, hopefully, lead to marriage.
As a result, Mormon youth are returning from their missions and not dating. Not because they lack financial resources, because sex is such a big part of the picture now, taking over every aspect of the idea.
The wholesome 1960's era dating Elder Holland and Sister Stephens know has literally disappeared from our current culture. Sex has replaced dating. Because the church does not condone this, YSA women know they must wait while the men feel ridiculous asking a girl to the local malt shop. What if they turn him down? The horror! Instead they can take their time and play the field, browse the buffet, hanging out, be as choosy as they want while the growing number of single never-married sisters just want to give up and die. To every thing there is a season and the season of the malt-shop date ended sometime after 1989.
The best answers regarding the "crisis" Elder Holland and Sister Stephens' could come up with?
Here they are:
- We're married and so can you!
- God will bless you in the next life.
- Keep living for the ideal which is temple marriage.
- Find ways to serve others (especially "the marrieds" because you have so much more free time than they do!)
- You are not defined by your marital status. (Um, yes we are, Sister Stephens. What part of "single" don't you understand?)
I felt patronized. I felt that, once again, church leaders wanted to avoid the most important issues plaguing the fastest growing minority in the church.
All they wanted to talk about was marriage but what about dating?
What about the LACK of dating?
Even the words "date" and "dating" were only mentioned in context to when these church leaders met and married their spouses.
When you're sixteen, it's okay if you still haven't been asked out on a date. It'll happen. It'll come
Age twenty-six? Not so cute anymore.
To be the ONLY ONE in your family ward still patiently waiting to be asked.
Feeling like one ruby among hundreds every Sunday at your singles ward.
Is it any wonder church attendance among this age group is falling fast?
In return, Elder Holland had a question for us.
"What do you do as a YSA to find peace and happiness during times of trial?"
A fair question.
Here's my answer:
"When I'm feeling most down and discouraged, I think about my two favorite nephews. How they make me laugh and feel good about myself. How much I enjoy spending time with them. Anticipating the next time we'll be together. This helps me forget, for a while, that I will not experience the joy of eternal families for myself until the next life. Not until after I'm dead. Yet, somehow, with God's help, I must learn to be accepting and happy with my life, such as it is. Right now."
Overall, it was a good broadcast. Elder Holland had many inspiring words for the YSA of the church. He made sure we knew we are loved, needed, appreciated.
I was especially pleased with his answer addressing the issue of same-sex attraction. Less attention on attraction, more on chastity. That really is what it all boils down to.
He left his blessing on the men who hold the Melchizedek priesthood: to be worthy of it and continue to use it; for good.
His blessing on the women was to stay active, work hard, endure despite the fact we outnumber men in so many areas of the church yet we are equally important in building up the kingdom of God. Our sacrifice (which includes continuing to live the law of chastity) will not go unrewarded.
You will be happy again.
Saturday, December 26, 2015
Looking back on 2015, it has been a quiet year in America while the rest of world suffered mass shootings, terrorist attacks, hurricanes, earthquakes and suicide bombings. For me, the biggest changes were in my own life which I should probably share here on my blog.
January, I quit my food service job with Intermountain Healthcare where I'd worked for nine years. Flipping burgers and washing dishes in a hospital cafeteria just wasn't appealing to me anymore and no matter how many times I applied for other positions within the company: certified nursing assistant, medical librarian, call center operator, they wouldn't promote me so I took my pension and left. It was time to move on anyway.
February, I quit my one bedroom apartment where I'd lived alone since 2009 and moved from Sandy to Murray into the house my mom and stepdad bought when they relocated here from southern Utah in 2007, shown above. They've been empty-nesters for years. Nobody lives in the basement. There's plenty of room. If you look carefully you can see my bedroom window-well between the lit deer and the stable. It's warm and comfortable down there and I love it.
No regrets with this move. I was tired of living alone. I didn't mind forking over the money to install blinds in all the downstairs basement windows or finishing off the fireplace (see the picture below).
My parents can drive me a little crazy sometimes, rubbing my face in the fact I've never been married and won't go out and get a job, any job, just to appease them, but I can live with that. There's a garden plot in the backyard and I spent many happy summer evenings outside picking tomatoes, digging up dandelions in the lawn, watering the flowerbeds and entertaining my two favorite nephews on the trampoline.
Can't do none of that in a one-bedroom apartment.
I have no shame admitting I live with my parents. I set money aside for this very purpose. I'm not attending their "slum ward" yet because my bishop told me I could keep my record in my current ward for as long as I needed. I love having Sundays off and have found new joy in keeping the third commandment.
I pay my own bills, buy most of my own food, take my turn cooking dinner and dishduty (I feel so spoiled, loading a dishwasher!). Yet, they keep threatening to sell the house unless I start compensating them with more financial contributions. Aside from the extra utilities, I don't take up much space. (They won't even make room for me in their three-car garage) and I don't eat much. I'm still waiting for them to call their bluff. It's not all bad. My mom is a good cook and we've enjoyed breakfast together on her days off (she works at Walmart) with hot chocolate made from scratch and doing the weekly grocery shopping together. I've always been a natural homebody. Right now we're working on a baby quilt for my sister-in-law who is expecting our first niece on my side of the family.
It's not like I'm always stuck at home. I still have my car, a 1996 Ford Aspire that I've been driving for fifteen years, bought used and paid cash. It keeps chugging along so I'll keep driving it with no car payments. And when mom and stepdad get to be too much, I can meet my best girlfriends for outings, go hiking, participate in book club meetings or over to my sister's to babysit whenever she needs me.
July, I took a fun road trip to Vancouver, Canada with my siblings.
September, my forty-first birthday was celebrated with my best girlfriends, family and two favorite nephews at my favorite restaurant. I received Cinderella on DVD, one of the best movies to come out in 2015 which I saw at the theater with my friends.
So, I've spent most of this year keeping busy, filling out applications for other jobs, five different interviews for positions with Deseret Book, Salt Lake City library and various teacher aide openings with Jordan School District. For the last month I took a temporary job for three weeks with Olive and Cocoa packing their handcrafted wooden crates with overpriced gourmet food and other items. It was fun and I earned a nice little wad of cash to supplement my dwindling savings account.
But my passion, what I've enjoyed most with all this free time, are the reading and writing I've accomplished in 2015. This is why I went back to school, changed my major to English and graduated with a second bachelors degree.
First, I submitted three articles for Deseret News which were published and I got twenty-five dollars each for my work. Here are the links:
Monday, October 12, 2015
For those that missed it, and even for those who did take the opportunity to attend, I encourage everyone to go to www.lds.org to view (or RE-view) all of the talks and videos from this last session of General Conference.
The Women's Session was particularly moving. The opening song by the children's choir brought tears to my eyes and we hadn't even heard the first speaker yet! So beautiful.
The shout out in this next video to single, never married sisters was also greatly appreciated.
Mother in Isreal
For the first time in many years I felt hope the church was finally recognizing and acknowledging the uncomfortable reality that there are thousands of amazing sisters in this church who yearn for the ideal life of temple marriage the gospel encourages us to strive for yet continues to ignore our unique circumstances. It's a classic catch-22: telling women they'll be blessed with a man they can never attain in this life then making them feel like failures for having such high standards.
Rosemary M. Wixom, primary general president quoted Elaine Cannon, a former Young Women General president who said, "There are two important days in a woman's life: The day she is born and the day
Even at the ripe old age of 41, I continue to struggle with finding the answer to that question: Why was I born?
Perhaps in the coming months (years?) I can share my experience in how I will get my answer.
Especially since it doesn't seem to include temple marriage, bearing children or finding a satisfying career that doesn't include the phrase, "Would you like fries with that?"
Saturday Afternoon Session October 3, 2015
Three new apostles were called. Like many others, members and gentiles alike, I too was taken aback that at least one of these men was not someone born outside Utah, someone not of Anglo-Saxon ancestry. Yet, I raised my hand to sustain all three and was glad to do so.
Later, as I watched the press conference, and heard their answers to the very questions I'd been secretly asking, the confirmation came again.
These are the three men that needed to be called.
The time is coming when a man of color or different ethnicity will be called forth to join the Quorum of the Twelve, however, that time is not now.
The Lord knows what He's doing.
That's a nice feeling, be it regarding the leadership of an entire global religion or my own little humble (insignificant?) life...
The Lord knows what He's doing.
Sunday Morning Session October 4, 2015
Thanks to clever camera directions and editing, if you hadn't been watching or listening carefully to President Monson during his talk, you would never have noticed those last two minutes as he leaned against the podium and seemed almost ready to collapse.
I had moved to the couch to listen while the flat screen TV was still aimed toward the breakfast table where we'd just finished eating ("Hey, Elder Wong, would you mind including a blessing on our food during your invocation? No? Okay, we'll just pause the DVR after you finish."Ain't technology grand? We are so spoiled. It became a running joke during the weekend at our house for whoever was watching from the bedroom house antenna TV to come into the front room and "predict" who the next speaker or song was to us viewing the sessions on the three-minute- delay, satellite TV. Let's hear it for Direct TV bringing back KSL just in time for conference!) I only listened with half an ear as President Monson gave his first and only talk of the day.
As his voice became weaker and he ended his talk I asked, "Is he all right?" and moved just in time to see the camera cut away to a long shot of the conference center rostrum. Later we would learn from this article why we all love Elder Uchtdorf so much.
I particularly got a kick out of his talk at the General Women's Session
Another shout-out to single sisters. Yay!
Oh, well. At least he included us in the compliment that we "possess distinctive capabilities." that we can use to help in building the kingdom and prepare for the second coming
read or view his talk here
I was mostly alone at church today as my sister and her family was out of town but I wasn't lonely.
Despite my lack of husband or family of my own to add to the general chaos that is sacrament meeting in our ward, I am starting to realize it's okay. Contributing to the building of the kingdom doesn't have to be some grand affair that gets a million Facebook "likes" as I prefer serving in quiet ways such as distracting the curly-haired two-year-old in the pew in front of me, using a black marker to embellish her ABC book with her own illustrations, handing her a piece of paper and a pen I just happened to have as part of my own primary lesson to color on instead. I could spare the extra sheet. Not to mention the pen. We all have at least five million of them stashed in a drawer somewhere at home.
It is my firm belief that anyone called as Sunbeam Wrangler (Sunday school teacher of three-year-olds) deserves an automatic free pass to the Celestial Kingdom. I was actually moved back one row to help teach the four-year-olds but my old class still enjoys sitting on my lap during the opening exercises and singing time. Here's a funny exchange I once had with a little boy named Asher:
Me: It's time to sing. You like this song, are you going to sing?
Asher *sighing with fatigue*: No, I only like to sing rock n' roll songs.
Me too, Asher, me too.
Which is not entirely true. The primary songs are all wonderful and fun to sing.
My lesson on the importance of prayer to the four-year-olds went very well. They are such a good class.
The woman I "team-teach" with also brought her little baby to our class today and I got my "baby fix" while the kids were coloring. I've decided I'd much rather be around the sweet spirits in primary right now than stuck in singles purgatory that is Relief Society (sorry Sister Burton).
I sang another number in sacrament meeting last month too.
I wrote this article describing my experience. My thanks to the talented Esther Stringer who combined two songs, Our Savior's Love and I am a Child of God into one beautiful solo piece for me to sing while she accompanied me on the piano. Singing solo in public was considerably easier this second time around. I feel like an old pro now.
With choir practice cancelled today, I stayed to visit with a divorced woman in my ward who also happens to be my visiting teacher (a woman who fellowships and befriends the women she's assigned to making sure everyone's needs are met) and we had a nice chat. She thanked me for being a listening ear and I was grateful for her reminder to me that I have so much to be thankful for.
How grateful I am to belong to a church that provides so many wonderful opportunities to serve. I hope you find many opportunities to serve others this week too.
Perhaps President Hinckley was onto something when he encouraged single sisters to forget themselves and go find others to help and serve.