Quote of the Week

"I assure you that if you have to wait even until the next life to be blessed with a choice companion, God will surely compensate you."
President Ezra T. Benson, To the Single Adult Sisters of the Church, 1988.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

After the Manner of the Flesh

Being alone is hard. Suffering from SSA and being alone, as one twelve-year old Mormon girl wearing a white shirt and red tie, speaking in sacrament meeting testified, is even harder.  According to a U.S Independent article this girl was quoted, “...if I’m perfect just the way I am [Heavenly Father] would never ask me to live my life alone or with someone I was not attracted to.” She also testified how she believed she could still go on dates, find a partner, get married, have a family and find a great job, despite being born lesbian.

At that point, the microphone was turned off and the girl was asked to sit down.
According to the article, she left the rostrum in tears and went out into the hall where her mother comforted her, telling her over and over how loved she was and that there was nothing wrong with her.
To ease the awkward moment, one of the members of the bishopric got up, taking the girl’s place at the microphone and bore a short testimony of God’s love for all His children, sons and daughters of God.

Before internet forums (and Salt Lake Tribune) light up in effigy howling over the injustice done to this girl, condemning the bigotry and conservative family values Mormons are famous for, I hope someone out there will remind those, both Mormon and non-member, that the purpose for a fast and testimony meeting in the LDS church is to bear witness of Jesus Christ.

The man who turned off the microphone did the right thing.

While this girl had many good things to say about God’s love for all His creations, her own personal testimony of Jesus Christ, his example in being alone, (unmarried?) rejected by the world, yet always maintaining a perfect love and connection with our Heavenly Father, somehow got left out. It is the Savior’s atonement we should always be focusing on, not our own selfish desires of the flesh.

If a single, heterosexual woman were to get up after this girl, “coming out as single” in the baring of her own testimony. She might say something like this:
    
Brothers and sisters, I want to thank ________ for reminding us all of the unique trials we were put on this earth to experience. As a lifelong member of this church who has never had the opportunity to marry in the temple or have a family, or even a great job, the fact I’ve reached a certain age and no man found me attractive enough to take to the temple, resulting in living alone, working outside the home I always dreamed of creating for myself, spending many nights in tears pleading with the Lord to grant me the desires of my heart, has been the single hardest trial of my entire life. It would seem I was also born this way; ugly to the eyes of men. Destined to live alone and be single my entire life, instead of filling the measure of my creation as the wife and mother I was taught to become. I know the idea of being born "a certain way" is one of Satan’s lies.
     Like ______ testified, I also believe a loving Heavenly Father would never want me to live my life alone but I’m also grateful for the gift of free agency that has allowed me to say no to certain situations which might have resulted in being with someone I was not attracted to. We all have our free agency in this life and, as President Hinckley once explained in a story about a switchman working for the railroad who made a terrible mistake and the baggage car ended up hundreds of miles from its destination, we must be very cautious of the choices we are given in this life. A single width of just three inches was all it took to send that baggage car down the wrong path resulting in much unhappiness.
            I wish I could testify of loving parents who supported my decisions to continue my education, live alone and not settle for any man just so I could say I was married. Believe me, my mom, stepdad and biological father would LOVE it if I was married and out of their hair! 
(congregation chuckles)
It pains me, knowing how uncomfortable my situation is for my dysfunctional family who has no idea what to do with me. I am often treated like a perpetual adolescent. Yet, I know Heavenly Father is watching out for me and aware of my heartache and the rejection I’ve faced from so many people for being different.
            A recent article in LDS Living, explaining a very broad reference to heavenly mother in 1 Nephi 11:18 had a significant impact on me. An angel was taking Nephi on this fantastic journey showing him the life of the Savior. Then he saw Mary, fair and beautiful. The angel said, “Behold the mother of the son of God, after the manner of the flesh.” The author of this article then paused to consider that phrase, “after the manner of the flesh.” Mary was a mortal woman. We know Heavenly Father could never have created Adam and Eve without a little help. We know Jesus Christ was born “after the manner of the flesh” meaning Mary was Jesus’ earthly mother but he also had a Heavenly Mother; the mother of his eternal spirit. It was a profound moment for the author.

            Brothers and Sisters, even though I will probably never be a mother, “after the manner of the flesh” in this life, I know I can be a Heavenly Mother in the eternities. While I am very imperfect now, I know my Savior is rooting for me to make good choices and hold to the iron rod. I know that because of His atonement, I can return to my heavenly home where eternal families and maybe even marriage and motherhood await. I will be forever grateful to my Heavenly Parents and my Savior for loving me just as I am and accepting of my faults and imperfections, “after the manner of the flesh!” I know the Book of Mormon is true and that Jesus Christ died so we might all be able to return and live with Him again. For these blessings I give thanks.   

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

My Top 10 List: Best LDS Fiction


            I love a good story. My collection of LDS fiction fills an entire oak bookcase. Three more house young adult and adult fiction. The fifth is dedicated to children’s picture books. I’m a closet librarian; a proud bookworm. At the sight of all these books, my ten-year-old nephew called me a nerd. I smiled and thanked him for the compliment!
            So, for all who love to curl up with a good page turner, I thought it would be fun to share my Top Ten List of the Best LDS Fiction I’ve come across, so far.

  1.  First Love and Forever,” Anita Stansfield, Covenant Communications, softcover, 1994, 235 pages. I call her the “Jane Austin” of LDS Romance. From 1994 to 2000 nobody could touch Anita Stansfield for clean romance. While her latest writings haven’t been as up-to-par in storytelling and characterization, I highly recommend her early work which all began with this book-Emily is stuck in an unhappy marriage until her old nonmember boyfriend from BYU comes back into her life to turn everything upside down!
Please check out my book blog where I’m currently summarizing all of her work: http://anitastansfieldfan.blogspot.com/2015/08/introduction-and-complete-book-list.html
2.      “Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites,” Chris Heimerdinger, Covenant Communications, softcover, 1989, 229 pages. Has it really been that long since the first book in this exciting time-traveling series captured our imaginations? Two boys and a pesky little sister discover a cave taking them on the trip of their lives. Over the years Heimerdinger’s series has expanded to include Old and New Testament adventures with a large cast of characters. Please don’t keep us waiting too long for the next installment, Chris!
3.      “Counting Stars,” Michele Paige Holmes, Covenant Communications, softcover, 2007, 388 pages. A lonely LDS single adult in the Seattle, Washington area takes an unusual path in creating for herself an eternal family, starting with an orphaned set of infant twins. This sweet, old-fashioned yet modern day romance is now my favorite re-read.
4.      The Work and the Glory, Vol 6, “Praise to the Man,” Gerald N. Lund, Bookcraft, hardcover, 1995, 732 pages.  Not many authors out there could create such a phenomenal series and this particular volume was Gerald Lund's magnum opus to Joseph Smith. The fictional Steed family, their life changing journey in joining the church became so real to us; these great figures from church history became our closest friends too. Testimonies were strengthened and Gerald Lund took his place as a respected and groundbreaking author in LDS literature. (I’m enjoying his latest Fire and Steel series)
I created a book blog dedicated to Lund’s work as well, please check it out: http://workandthegloryfan.blogspot.com/2014/06/intoduction-to-this-blog-welcome.html
5.      Children of the Promise, Vol 1, “Rumors of War,” Dean Hughes, Deseret Book, hardcover, 1997, 500 pages. Another “must-read” historical fiction series. The children of the Thomas family are caught in the outbreak of the most famous war in history. Alex is currently serving a mission in Germany. His sister will leave her studies at the University of Utah to volunteer as a nurse in the south pacific while mischievous and wild Wally doesn’t care where the war takes him, as long as it’s exciting! Will they all make it home safely? After reading this initial volume, you won’t be able to stop.
6.      Out of Jerusalem, Vol 1, “Of Goodly Parents,” H. B. Moore, Covenant Communications, hardcover, 2004, 279 pages. Currently my favorite LDS author, (I can hardly put down her latest series, The Moses Chronicles) Heather B. Moore did her research and gave us a wonderful account of what Lehi and Nephi’s journey to the promised land might have been like. You’ll never read first and second Nephi the same way again!
7.      “Beauty and the Clockwork Beast,” Nancy Campbell Allen, Shadow Mountain, softcover, 2016, 313 pages. Part of Shadow Mountain’s “Proper Romance” line, N.C. Allen took a break from historical fiction (Faith of our Fathers) to pen the first LDS steampunk where Victorian Era meets science fiction in an unusual world that runs on steam powered machines and electrical devices, including ray guns. Add a few werewolves and vampires and get ready for some high strung adventure. Since this is a fantasy, none of the characters are LDS. As a conservative reader, I tend to avoid these racy genres, until I read this one. Congrats to this author for making a “proper” romance feel so…sexy!
8.      “The Orphan Keeper,” Cameron Wright, Shadow Mountain, hardcover, 2016, 432 pages. Nominated for a 2016 Whitney award recognizing novels by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Cameron Wright’s second novel (I also recommend “The Rent Collector”) about a boy kidnapped in India in the 1970’s and brought to the United States is hard to put down.
9.      “Sarah,” Orson Scott Card, Shadow Mountain, hardcover, 2000, 390 pages. Better known for his science fiction books, if Mr. Card ever decides to ditch that genre he could still make a pretty decent living writing historical fiction. This is the first book in a series focusing on the wives of the Patriarchs-tough, smart and unique in their own ways.
10.  “Austenland,” Shannon Hale, Bloomsbury, softcover, 2007, 208 pages. After reading the book, I had the very great pleasure of seeing the film at Sundance. Jane lives in New York, obsessed with all things Jane Austin, dreaming of finding her very own Mr. Darcy. When the opportunity comes to visit a resort and live the Regency lifestyle, Jane makes the trip where Mr. Darcy turns out to be very different than what she expected. Light, fun, but mostly eye-rolling story, I recommend reading the book first, then seeing the movie. None of the characters are of any religion but both the book and movie are clean and family friendly.

So what LDS fiction titles would make your list?


Friday, March 10, 2017

A Day Without Women should include children too





On March 8 thousands of women took to the streets in peaceful protest, but for the wrong reasons. For all the signs demanding equality in everything from equal pay to gender rights, not one sign could be found demanding equal treatment for women-for the sake of her children. Somehow, amidst all the yelling and screaming of self actualization, the need to put a woman and her happiness first, the children were conveniently forgotten.  

The most common collocation in the English language is women AND children, not women and their paychecks. For decades, paychecks were the man's responsibility for a reason. Odd, nobody was protesting that. 

Imagine a protest of thousands of women carrying signs urging men to "step up" and "put our children's welfare first." All women deserve the choice to either stay home or bring home the bacon. 1960's feminism may have liberated us from our pots and pans and floor waxers but the fallout was losing two decades of men to the divorce culture that followed. Today's hard working women are feeling more stressed out than ever. Let's address the real reason for this-a day (make that many days) without men. 

Once upon a time, it was men who dominated the low-wage food service and retail industries. It was men who stood in the soup lines during the Great Depression. In the 1960's men dominated the workforce so wives and mothers (even childless ones) could stay home. That's not the case today. It is a subject worth protesting.

A day without women is a great idea. Men would be living on cereal and Top Ramen, washing their shirts in Fabreeze and drowning in their own dirty dishes if not for women. And when men refuse to "step up" and take responsibility for the families they create, women have no choice but to take action. And our children are suffering for it. Just ask any elementary grade school teacher. A job no man wants.

The world needs more necks turning the patriarchal heads, more hands to rock the cradle and keep the hearth fire burning. Who else's shoulders would the responsibility fall in training up a child in the way they should go? If women want to be equal with men in everything, women must first acknowledge and celebrate their own special ability to create and nurture life.

The world would be a desolate and barren place without women. Think about that for a moment.

So, the next time there's a Day Without a Woman march, let's remind the public of the equal importance of men stepping up. Women should not be expected to do everything. Give women the freedom to choose but let it be done for the sake of the children.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

How Do I Survive "Single Awareness Day?" With A Little Help From My Friends!


I know many amazing, single, never married women like myself here in Utah who aren't dating. Two simple reasons being-single men don't ask and the numbers are skewed against us. Be it Valentine's Day or any other day, there is no dating amongst singles in the Salt Lake City area. That's why my single, heterosexual girlfriends and I get together every year and have our own fun.
Necessity is indeed the mother of invention.

Forget Coffee Meets Bagel, Tinder or even LDSPlanet this Valentine's Day. I tried all those dating sites years ago, paid the thirty-plus dollar yearly fees so my Prince Charming could message me back on ldssingles. We'd meet up, fall madly in love and live happily ever after. Right?
While I made the effort and sent many messages to potential single fellas, many of whom looked very promising (even if their profile pics looked just a little TOO perfect) no Valentine's date emerged.

I got nothing but radio silence.

Fear not. Text messages from my best girlfriends soon made up for my disappointing attempts at online dating.

That's why my advice for all singles without a date this Valentine's Day is to round up fellow singles like yourself and have your own (heterosexual) group date. I'm not sure how all those eligible bachelors here in Salt Lake spend their Valentine's Day, but for my four best single girlfriends and myself (all of us never married and not currently dating anyone) we’ve managed to create a fun tradition all our own.

Over the years "the fabulous five" have gotten together for some memorable Valentine's Day fun. Going out to a production of Ballet West's "Cinderella." A Downton Abbey tea party three years ago at Whitney’s. Last year it was a home-cooked meal from scratch (because we totally ROCK in the kitchen, you single men have no idea what you're missing out on!) with an estrogen-packed chick flick at Luci's apartment. And, yes, we remembered the popcorn-popped fresh in Whitney's Wirlypop stovetop popper with gourmet root beer. When we throw a party, we do it right.

This year we're going out to dinner at City Creek then to a performance of Ballet West's "Sleeping Beauty." An expensive date, yes, which no single guy is going to spend that much on. So, why spend so much of our hard-earned on our amazing, single-selves? Well, like the old L'Orel commercial remind us,

Because we're worth it!

So, get out there ladies, and have some fun this Valentine's Day. Who knows? Maybe we'll all get lucky next year...



Thursday, January 5, 2017

Cat Videos Anyone?


Social networking, video consumption, and music/podcasts are especially popular with younger smartphone owners
Three-quarters of younger smartphone owners (75%) indicated using their phone to watch videos at least once over the study period, compared with 31% of those 50 and older (a difference of 44 percentage points). And 64% of younger adults used their phones at one time or another to listen to music or podcasts — a 43-point difference compared with the 21% of older users who did so.

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/).

Those closest to me know I don't own a smartphone. Not yet. I'm not against them. I just haven't gotten around to updating my old flip-phone. A friend at my new job did her best to sell me on the idea of upgrading before Christmas. Pulled up all the great deals out there, displayed them on her phone. This is a great time of year to buy, she said. Free phones with purchase of a plan. Do it! 

I smiled at her enthusiasm. She should be working for Sprint or Verizon, not this call center where half the members we talk to about their Humana prescriptions are part of that age group for whom the word "app" is decidedly NOT in their vocabulary. We're encouraged to tell them about our company's app. Most of them, bless their hearts, don't even have an email address.  

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!