The is moment our paths crossed. The beginning of two lives connecting. The time when when I didn’t know Willie one moment and the next I did. This is a story we tell over and over. Whether it’s a new friend’s house for dinner, or talking around a campfire, how we met always comes up. It’s the story our kids hear often. Willie even wrote a song about it. It was 18 years ago.

April, 1999

My roommate Cary and I thought it would be fun to start a house concert series. I was obsessed with Neil Young. We decided to host a concert at a friends house and collect donations at the door to help us go see Neil Young in concert in San Francisco. We called it a Neil Young Benefit concert, though it didn’t benefit anyone but me and Cary. There were three Neil Young Benefit concerts total. The first has pictues. At the third Willie and his friends played a stirring bluegrass rendition of Guns n Roses, Paradise City. It was amazing. I think he was even wearing the brown corduroy shirt he was wearing for our first kiss. Our lives were connected by then.

The second concert is when we met. It was the end of my junior year at BYU. I was an English major, a poet, and a budding musician. I was a lover of all things outdoors, including the moon and her phases, wildflowers, and hiking Mt Timpanogos to watch the sun rise. I was nearing the end of my schooling with no real plan for the future. I didn’t have any career plans. I kind of cringe about that now. Possibly a MFA in creative writing, which still isn't much of a career plan. After the end of this semester, I would spend the summer living with my mom in Midway, working in floral design at Sundance Farms and spending all the time I could hiking and camping.

My habitual, on and off boyfriend was at the concert with me. We had over a year's worth of constant tearful breakups and joyful reunions on the books. Everything I learned about love, I learned from Beverly HIlls 90210 or Melrose Place, so according to that, everything in my relationship was right on track, scoring super high on the drama-o-meter.

I opened the set with a few songs. I can’t remember my other two songs. Maybe 100 miles or This old House, but I know I sang Don’t Think Twice. Right before my song I joked that I needed someone to back me up and called on one of the guys that lived in the house. I had a long time crush on him, I thought he looked like Nicolas Cage. Realize this was 6 years before the movie National Treasure, so it was a compliment then. This was the Moonstruck or City of Angels, leading man Nicolas Cage. He laughed and declined, but then I saw a guy jump up from the back, with a harmonica in hand and walk toward the front.

The song wasn’t perfect. I was singing the Peter, Paul, and Mary version, and Willie was singing the Bob Dylan version (much cooler). We messed up some of the words, but he made me sound better than I was with his great harmonies and harmonica playing. Then the song was over and we both sat down while more people played. So it’s true, we sang together before we even met.

I was sitting on the couch by my boyfriend and I kept looking over at Willie. His hair was blond and parted down the middle and he was wearing black glasses. He was handsome and seemed like a bonafide college student. The glasses made me think he was really smart and he proved he wasn't shy. I was so scared to get up and perform that night. My heart was in my throat and beating so hard. He had joined in with me like it was nothing, with total ease. He seemed like a guy that would be staying up late playing music, talking about politics, and studying hard. All of these things ended up being true.

He got up to play one of his songs, Alien in Omaha. The song has a long stream of quick words and he was strumming his guitar so loud and fast. He seemed confident, positive, and happy. He was talented, and I was very impressed. He showed up to this house concert unexpectedly, and was easily the best musician in the house. He ended up not being as high energy as I thought. I think I even used the word “hyper” when I talked to my friend about him. It was just the fast songs he was playing.

After the music ended, my friend Jessica, a former missionary companion, introduced us. She had brought him and they worked together. I assumed they were on a date. I’m pretty sure Willie and I shook hands when we met, because that’s what returned missionaries do. That seems oddly businesslike now. I’m not sure how long we talked or what he talked about, but he had definitely made an impression on me.

August 1999

Summer had passed and my last full semester of school was about to start. I would soon move back to Provo from Midway, finish up my degree, and start working at a health food store. I was on my way home from a poetry workshop. I wasn’t dating my boyfriend anymore, and was feeling unattached and possibly a little saucy. When I was driving down University, I saw a band playing on the corner and as I got closer, I recognized Willie. I pulled over with the full intention of flirting with him.

I approached to listen to the music and he stopped playing and came right over to me. He remembered my name. That made me so happy. We talked about our common friend, Jessica. They still worked together but there was no sign of them dating. I told him to have her call me and gave him my number to give her. Of course I was hoping he would call me, so I should have said that, because he didn’t. We did talk poetry and realized we were both English majors, so I knew we’d probably see each other at school, which we did. It wasn’t long until we starting passing in the hall in the JKHB. Sometimes he would grab my hand as he passed and I’d get butterflies. Soon we were emailing each other and he eventually ended up at my apartment for a poetry group, leaning into me while we were sitting next together on the couch.

What are these antique things called blogs? Man, it's been a while!

I thought I'd give a health update, since several people have asked me about it and I'm not sure I've totally processed it all yet.

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis this summer. For a few years I had been having these joint flares that would come and go and migrate around my body. It was so mysterious. I didn't think it was RA because it did not manifest like most people's RA, and I didn't want RA. The migrating, one sided flares threw me for a loop with all my sophisticated online self diagnosing. The first few times I thought I was injured. The doctor agreed and gave me pain meds. Then after it kept happening, I knew something was wrong. Also, for the last couple of years, I've had this sleepiness, almost getting sick feeling. I kept telling Willie, "I think I'm coming down with something". Well, I wasn't coming down with something, I had something.

The last two Decembers things were the most crazy. The end of the year is stressful for me professionally and personally. It's at these times that I drink a lot of caffeine, don't sleep very much, and eat poorly. I thought maybe I was having an overuse problem in my wrists and I would wear braces and then once things settled down, I felt better and kind of forget about it.

Last December, I had a hip flare that hurt so bad. Hip and shoulder flares are very disruptive to sleep and just about anything. So I went to the doctor and he had me take a few blood tests. When I came back elevated for two of the blood tests, I didn't know for sure what that meant. I now know that it meant I had RA. One test gives someone a 95% chance of having RA and the other test 97%, and I had both of them. I ended up meeting with a rheumatologist in January. She was so relaxed about the whole thing and hopeful that I think I misread her message. She said she was not going to diagnose me yet. I heard, "You don't have RA, but  you might someday. Keep in touch." Now I realize what she said was, "You have RA, but probably in the early stages. It's coming. Call me when it gets here."

Just when I thought, I can live with a flare ever couple of months. No big deal, it came on so strong. I had almost a month of a flare every day. It just kept moving to different joints, even my jaw, and sometimes on both sides. Having two hands out of commission is the worst! Depending on the flare, i couldn't open a jar, get out of the tub, pull my own hair back (Hank liked helping with that), get my clothes on or off, play an instrument, etc. If it was an upper body flare, I would still run, but if it was a lower body flare, I'd just try to take it easy. Also, flares hurt really bad. It makes my stomach churn with pain. It's like an infection in the joint. It can be red and hot and get so inflamed that the joint just stops working. I flinched if my kids were too close to the hurt joint. My whole body would get tense from the pain. Ibuprofen doesn't really take the edge off.  I took a narcotic pain killer once that my primary doc prescribed. My rheumatologist doesn't prescribe them. I'm not sure if it helped with the pain, but it made me so happy/sleepy/high that I didn't care if I was in pain.

I think my rock bottom was at girls camp. After so much pain, so many sleepless nights and being up in the mountains trying to sleep on a cot, I called the rheumatologist's office sobbing. At this point i dramatically changed my diet (it's an RA thing, everyone is doing it), and prepared to see the rheumatologist. She agreed it had arrived and she wanted to start treatment immediately with an immune suppressant. She said it would take about 3 months to be in full affect. Ever since then, I've been steadily improving. I strongly believe that the diet is helping and the medication. I don't want to stay on the medication my whole life, if possible, so our plan is for me to be in remission for 6 months then I can try coming off. At that point, I may need to get even stricter with my diet. Right now I don't eat gluten, dairy, or refined sugars. I do have rice and gluten free oats sometimes. If I can't keep in remission without the medication, then I will move to Paleo (removing all grains) and if that doesn't work I'll need to go to AIP (autoimmune protocol), which further cuts out nuts, seeds, eggs and nightshade vegetables. Then you try to see what you can add back in. I also met with an integrative doctor and did a delayed food allergy test and had 60 days without 22 foods that I reacted to. I'm now adding them back in and without any problems. I had to be two months off of chocolate. It seemed like the worst thing ever, but I got used to it. Now that I added chocolate back into my diet, my feelings for chocolate have changed. We used to have something so special, such a deep love, but now I'm just not that into it. So strange.

Right now I am feeling so great. I have been able to keep up with my half marathon training. The hardest part has been getting up early without going to bed early the night before to beat the heat. My joints feel great. My general feeling of sickness has lifted. I don't need caffeine. I have to pay close attention to my sleep and stress situation and the food thing has finally settled and I have plenty of good things to eat and am not bummed out about it. Thanks so much to everyone that has been concerned and inquired! I'm so lucky to have such supportive family and friends.

I've been thinking about the issues surrounding dieting for about a year and I finally feel like I've made some strides. Something I've learned from the author of this book is that you can't replace your unhealthy patterns with new healthy ones, until you deconstruct your unhealthy patterns. I have body image issues and they run deep.

I never thought of myself as a dieter, which is strange, since I'm always on some diet and have been most of my adult life. I guess I had a hard time admitting it and I just considered it healthy eating. A big change in my thinking has come recently, because I am no longer the awesome restrictor I used to be.  I could deny myself food so well in the past, that it was never a problem to loose weight. I just starved myself, slowly, until the weight was gone.

My first major immersion into dieting was after Willie and I spent a summer camping and road tripping before he started law school.  I always gained weight when I was out of my norm like going on study abroad or on my mission, but I lost it once my routine went back to normal.

This time was different. Dieting become a part of my regular life. My clothes were tight after our summer adventures so I thought I'd try out weight watchers to drop a few lbs.  It ended up being a thrilling experience.  I loved controlling my body and seeing the weight fall off. I've always related love with being skinny. I lost the few lbs then kept going.  I had lost so much weight that everyone was saying that I was starting to look too thin.  I was just going to roll with it. I weighed less than I did in high school and now my clothes were all too big.  Then I got pregnant and dieting fell by the wayside while I was pregnant for three months and miscarried the baby, recovered, then got pregnant again with Wyatt.

During Wyatt and Hank's pregnancy I indulged in any food I wanted to eat and gained a lot of weight. Then I went back to my restricting ways and was able to loose the weight but it got harder.  After my pregnancy with Lula, everything is different.  I can't restrict what I eat to the point that I used to. I want to rebel from restricting.  I want to eat what I want.  In this book, I learned that restricting and indulging are just two ends of the same problem, using food to fill a hole.  It comes from a place of shame and fear.  These feelings are so complicated because I don't want a life of obsessing about food and weight.  I don't want to be defined by the way I look. I know there is more to me than my body but being thin has become an obsession. This book uncovered so much for me.  Deciding to give up dieting and learn to trust my body has filled me with excitement and euphoria.  I feel free.

I read a similar book over a year ago and it freaked me out. In this book, Geneen Roth says to pay close attention to whatever makes you want to bolt.  It will tell you something important about yourself.  Last year, I tried to eat whatever I want for a month or so, after coming off a restrictive diet, and I ended up just eating sweets and gaining at least 5lbs and feeling horrible.  I hadn't quite grasped the ideas yet and I was terrified that I would never stop eating. I also couldn't bear the thought of accepting myself at my current weight.

A little time and more knowledge has brought me to a much better place. I have come to terms with the fact that my body may stay this way. This is what is real right now. I am healthy. I am fit.  My body can do amazing things, like running 13.1 miles and enjoying about 11 miles of it.  I can run these beautiful trails where I live and smell the desert and see the animals.  What is first and foremost for me now is that I treat my body kindly, that I give it fuel so I'm healthy and strong and can do all the wonderful things I want to do.

I also deconstruct the crazy thoughts in my head, over and over again.  For instance.  The other day I was getting ready to go to the gym. I looked in the mirror and thought, I'm fat.  What if someone at the gym notices that I wasn't able to loose my baby weight? They saw me when I was in such great shape before I got pregnant.  They'll think I'm the worst.

There probably are people at the gym that would think that, but really, who cares?  Why do I care?  I think about it for a while and realize that I feel like I've failed for not returning to my pre baby weight. I've lost the control I had. I feel like people might think I can't do hard things, I'm lazy or indulgent. So I think it through in my head and see the thoughts for what they are (just thoughts) and what they uncover about how I feel about myself. Almost every thought leads back to a place of fearing that I'm not lovable.

This book teaches eating as a practice. It's not a program or something to fall off of. It's a practice.  It's mindful eating. You get better at it with time and it comes from a place of love for yourself. What hit me the most was, eat when you are hungry and eat what your body wants.  She goes into more detail about each of these, but the idea of only eating when I'm hungry is so simple but hard to get in tune with.  This is about what your body wants/needs to be healthy, energetic, strong and happy. It's not about numbing, entertainment, habit, etc. This is really hard.

I'll update as I go, but I've only been internalizing these ideas for about a month so I'm kind of new to this all.  Below are the eating guidelines.

1. Eat when you are hungry.

2. Eat sitting down in a calm environment. This does not include the car.

3. Eat without distractions. Distractions include radio, television, newspapers, books, intense or anxiety-producing conversations or music.

4. Eat what your body wants.

5. Eat until you are satisfied. How do you feel?

6. Eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others.

7. Eat with enjoyment, gusto, and pleasure.

I'm Writing

I feel like writing lately. I even have a notebook. I haven't written anything in it yet, but I have it. I've even had some poetry imagery come to me.  This is a big deal. I haven't considered myself a writer in years.  I feel the need to use my voice and put my words out there. I don't know where "there" is yet, but I have to start experimenting and this is a good place to start.

A while back, I thought I was at the cusp of a mid-life crisis or a depressive episode (if only medication could fix it).  It turns out it was a mid-life crisis, breakdown, awakening or something like that. That all sounds kind of dramatic. I'm not sure what to name it. I think naming it is kind of reductive. There are a lot of things that have been leading up to this.

Here is what Brene Brown said on the subject, "People may call what happens at midlife "a crisis," but it's not.  It's an unraveling -- a time when you feel a desperate pull to live the life you want to live,
not the one you're "supposed" to live.  The unraveling is a time when you are challenged by the universe to let go of who you think you are supposed to be and to embrace who you are."

It was painful and I was crying a lot, that's why I thought it was depression.  I'll maybe write more about it later, but what I want to write about now is how much better I'm feeling. Not only do I feel
better, but I feel hungry for knowledge and learning.  This last year has become a time of self discovery and inquiry. It's been hard and scary but very fulfilling. I guess you could say I was living on auto pilot and getting knocked off that has been a huge growing experience.

I wrote this a while back about being a feminist in the Mormon church.  This was the start of my unravelling.  It became impossible to stay on auto pilot and I could no longer resist my emotions.  I was afraid of being overpowered by sadness. The unraveling had been trying to happen for years.  I actually remember calling it a pre-mid life crisis after Hank's birth. This excommunication and backlash against Mormon Feminists broke my heart. I was hesitant when I wrote this post, and I never publicly shared it since it's such a charged subject but I'm much stronger now. I was afraid of what people would think of me or say to me or afraid they would stop loving me. I was so desperate for approval that I was afraid to use my voice.

I have come a long way in trusting myself.  It's okay if people don't feel the same way I do.  I also understand that some people didn't give a second thought to this subject. I know most Mormons are over it, but it affected me deeply.  I had absurd expectations about how my beloved religion (institutionally and socially) would treat it's members. I was so disappointed.

I increased my medication last year and it could not touch what I was feeling, which I think was grief.  I started a round of therapy, at the recommendation of my doctor. I have had several positive
experiences with therapy and I agreed it would be helpful.   I have something I call my "cry-o-meter".  To give you an example, my first session of therapy, I did not come up for air in my crying the whole time. Sobbing for an hour straight is exhausting. I had been holding a lot in. Every session I cried a little less until I eventually didn't cry at all and started feeling much better and in control of my own life.  Once my therapist and I started talking about things, like where I got my highlights or what book I was reading, we decided that it was time for me to stop coming.

The therapy book we used, Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life, was an answer to prayer. It showed me that I was creating mental pain for myself and living a life in my head, instead of living a full and meaningful life right now. I was suffering from negative thought patterns.  The voice in my head is judgmental, self righteous, belittling and mean. I was believing the voice in my head. I was
believing those damaging thoughts instead of seeing and accepting the real me.  I was resisting feeling and examining my pain. Pain from fear and shame. I was loosing myself in it. I had to be willing to take my emotions in the moment without defense.

To quote from the book, "Willingness and acceptance means adopting a gentle, loving posture toward yourself, your history, and you programming so that it becomes more likely for you simply to be aware of your own experience. The goal of willingness is not to feel better. The goal is to open up yourself to the vitality of the moment, and to move more effectively toward what you value."

This whole experience includes a lot of aspects of my life (spirituality, culture, family, my creativity, embracing aging, my values, religion, belief, doubts, wants, regrets, uncertainty, body image, motherhood, etc).  My capacity for empathy has opened up, my capacity for love has deepened, my connection to God is stronger.  I'm trying to embrace uncertainty.  I'm trusting my intuition. The best way I can explain it, is that my heart broke wide open and I'm so thankful.

We had a great road trip last weekend.  First we went to Stake temple day in Monticello, Utah.  The Stake provides childcare once a year and we haven't missed the blessed occasion in years.  We normally camp out but we decided that this would be a good time to go to Durango for me to take some pictures for my friend Chad's website.  Case is in the process of making him a new website for his construction business and working on his branding. I was able to see his new logo in action on one of his tractors.

From Monticello we went to Cortez and were hoping to have some time to spend in Mesa Verde but we were running too late and went straight to Durango.  Chad put us up in his posh condo.  I could not get over the beautiful scenery and how nice the condo was.  We went on walks, played cards, went swimming, stayed up late watching a Jackie Chan  movie with the boys, went out to eat and Willie and I stayed up late reading and talking.

I took pictures on Saturday and we had some crazy beautiful rain.  Sunday morning we went to Mesa Verde and it was everything I thought it would be. It was so cool. I can't wait to go back.  Then we drove home through the mountains and it was such a beautiful drive.  The kids were great in the car.  Lula fussed a little when we were at the ruins but in general she did great.  I can't believe what beautiful things we live close to.

Also, Durango, where have you been all my life? Sometimes Willie and I have the "where else could you see us living" conversation.  I could never really think of a place that's a good fit.  Durango is such a good fit, besides Willie not having a job there and how expenses houses are.  We looked through houses a little bit online and I was bummed about what was in our price range. It made me thankful for our current house. It may need a lot of work, but I love it. It suits us so well and was affordable.

We will be back to Durango, though, hopefully soon.  The landscape was a much improved version of my childhood landscape. It felt great.

Here is a picture recap of our journey.  Pictures don't do it justice, but I had to try.  Also, it's time to pay my dues by editing the pictures of Chad's houses I took. He builds beautiful, huge, artistic houses with great lighting, but they are still pictures of houses. Blah.

I needed a picture for this post and I like this one.  My post doesn't directly relate to the photo, but I like the mood.

I haven't posted for a long time so I think an update is in order. I'm hoping this won't be too heavy. Sometimes I don't really know until I get going.


It's back baby.  I have had some pretty intense dips this last year and it's hard to realize it when you have up times most of the time.  When you are always depressed, it's pretty obvious.  It turns out that I was calling  my sister on a regular monthly basis, admitting that I was crying a lot (like don't know if I can stop for days a lot).  She finally said, hey you have been doing this for about a year.  You should go to the doctor.  It seems so simple.  Why didn't I think of that?  One side affect of depression for me is denying how bad it is.  I'm glad I have people in my life that can help me see that.

I've had my medication adjusted and am starting therapy.  My doctor said the most effective form of treatment for depression is medication and therapy. I actually like therapy.  It's great talking to someone for an hr and they really listen and they are always on your side.  Plus, therapy seriously changed my life while i was dating Willie, like my therapist's name will forever be blessed in our home.  I've only been once so far and I think I have a good fit in my new therapist.  We hugged (she's a woman). The only thing I don't like about therapy is the cost.  Insurance does a bummer of a job covering the visits and she wants me for 12 weeks.

I think i might, in fact, be having a midlife crisis.  I suspected it a while back but wasn't sure.  I'm not sure if it's because of depression or some other heavy things I'm dealing with, but all I know is that some things can really, really hurt and I'm not sure why. I'm hopeful that things are going to get better.  My medication is already helping a lot, and I am a dedicated student and have already jumped into my studies for therapy.  We will be using the New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and it's kind of mind bending.  It's going to take practice to grasp it.  It's like the idea of leaning into your pain when you have a baby. I remember trying that for like one minute while waiting for my epidural with Lula. Running away from my pain is what makes the most sense to me.

I'm not totally sure why I'm putting this out there.  I hope I'm not over-sharing. I just hate the idea of depression being a shameful thing to talk about.  I don't see a lot of people wanting to hide their struggles with their diabetes.  It helps me feel better when I can talk openly about it. It's not my fault and I am not ashamed to take medication. I have several people in my life that like to suggest alternatives to me and I try so hard to see their attempt at caring for me instead of the unspoken shame they are inducing by saying I shouldn't take any medication.  I use a doctor for my treatment.  That's my choice and I'm okay with it.  I need someone qualified, that I trust, that understands the mental illness.  I also want people I care about to know how I'm doing.  Facebook and instagram posts don't really tell the full story.  Who wants to post a picture of themselves crying?  Buzz kill.  I have a dear mission campion (the one who introduced me to Willie) that posted about her depression close to Robin Williams death.  She said that her depression treatment is like walking on sand.  I agree.

My depression is just a portion of my life. In general, I'm so happy. That's what is so strange about this whole thing.  I don't understand it all. Lula is such a wonderful addition to our family. It's a serious love fest around here.  Wyatt and Hank are the dearest creatures. My home (though messy and outdated) is my safe place.  I love being here.  I love that Willie is my other half.

I think this is all the update I want to do for now.  Talking about other things, like getting new quartz countertops in our kitchen (squeal) can come in another post. Oh, and post baby weight loss (so tired of it). When will it be over?  Will it be over?

Yes, I'm writing about this.  I don't really want to, but writing is how I organize my thoughts.  I'm tired of reading things about Kate Kelly's excommunication and Mormon feminism, I'm so exhausted but my voice matters. My experience matters. This subject matters. I've actualy tried to write about my feelings before but it always stays in my draft folder.  There are several reasons.  One, the subject is so large that it's hard to organize my writing.  A blog post is not enough.  A dissertation or book of memoirs maybe, not a blog post.  Also, I'm afraid to share my feelings. Something positive that's come out of this whole church/feminism/ Ordain Women drama is that people are talking about it.  I'm not as afraid to be me.

I have to preface this with the fact that I am a woman of faith.  I am a disciple of Christ.  I want to serve. I do have doubts, but I also have a lot of hope.  There are so many things I hope are true. My religion has been front and center in my life for my whole life.  I have had many spiritual experiences. I've felt so much peace.  I feel like it's in my DNA. I feel the strength of my ancestors who viewed the prophet Joseph Smith's body after he was killed, walked across the plains to find peace, and built up a life on the beautiful land in Utah. My grandmother, a temple matron, would sit me in front of the mirrors in her bathroom and teach me about eternity. I spent countless mornings snuggling next to my mother in her bed while she read to me from the scriptures. I am invested.  This is my path, but I don't always fit the mold of the Mormon woman (spoiler alert, there isn't a mold).

There is also pain in the church for me. I thought I'd try to explain. I know a lot of people have a hard time understanding.  I'm not sure I know all the reasons myself.  I understand things in imagery, and last night I had several images run through my mind as I was trying to fall asleep.  It helped me to understand what I was feeling. Just because I struggle with these issues doesn't mean that I think everyone should see it my way.  I'm actually jealous of women in the church that love the way things are set up.  I envy people that never doubt.  This is me, though.  It does not make me less of a Mormon.

I need to preface this with, I am a feminist and have been for almost as long as I can remember.  If you are surprised I am a feminist, you might not fully understand what a feminist is.  Actually, when I hear someone say, "I'm not a feminist" I am so baffled.  I just thought everyone would think men and women are equal (I did not say the same) and should be afforded the same opportunities, respect and value.  When I was young, I was warned about being a "women's libber".  I was told to stay away from feminism. There was shame associated with it, but once I got to college it was a feast. I learned so much.  I had the support of wonderful professors and had so much to read and think about.  I had private conversations in offices with wonderful women who instructed me and taught me with love.  They were also woman of faith. I felt like this was my awakening.  I learned language to explain feelings that I have always had. But with this awakening came troubling feelings that I didn't know how to reconcile.

For a while, I felt so much confusion and sadness surrounding polygamy in the church.  No matter how people tried to explain it, the thought of a woman being required (for salvation) to share her sexual partner was so degrading. Women seemed to be given as rewards, prizes to men. I remember one evening I was driving to a friend's cabin with Willie and two other friends.  It was a long drive and it was snowing.  We were in a deep, safe conversation and this is the first time I vocalized that I felt like God must not love me as much as a man if he and his prophets and church treated women like this.  I finally realized why it hurt so bad. I felt unloved by God.

My next moment of realization was in the temple a year or so later.  I was sitting on a bench reading in the scriptures.  I was reading in the Doctrine and Covenants about polygamy. I was thinking about the words "unto my husband". It was always right there, bothering me, hurting me.  Then I had a moment of realization where God and the church separated. I could see that the church was not always right.  Humans make mistakes.  Understanding is limited. I didn't have to have answers to everything.  I didn't need to explain everything. This was the start of my managing the paradox of a human organization and an eternal God and where I fit in.  God did love me as much as a man.  If it didn't seem like it in the church, then I had to first believe God and then forgive the humans running his church.

That was about 14 years ago.  For the most part, I have been so happy in the church. I have had wonderful leaders.  I have loved my bishops and my mission president and my Stake Presidents. I have been respected and given opportunities to learn and serve.  I have a spouse who is my equal partner.  There is no presiding in our home, just partnering.  But there has always been this yearning for female voice in the church. What about Heavenly Mother?  Do we not have any information about her because she doesn't exist? Some people say there are many Heavenly Mothers (something I do not believe).  Why aren't we seeking more knowledge about her? Why are there only men on the stand?  We seldom hear women's voices in general conference. I started to feel a great void for the voice of women in the church.  This is not anger or power grabbing.  It is sorrow.  We have inherited patriarchy.  It's everywhere, not just in the church, but in the church it is solid.  It is so strong. It's defended as God's way. I don't place blame but I yearn for change. I don't think having one gender holding the power (spiritual, administrative, decision making, financial, doctrinal) is beneficial to anyone.  

Then Ordain Women came on the scene.  I had never seriously thought about women's ordination. It was too foreign. It was too extreme. Then once the subject started to come up more, it took about 15 minutes of seriously thinking about it and my mind opened up.  I saw myself standing in the circle when my babies were blessed.  I saw me inviting my mother to join in the circle.  I saw me administering to Willie when he was in need, something so personal and wonderful.  I saw sister missionaries finding joy bringing the converts they love into the waters of baptism.  I saw sisters from the Relief Society giving blessings to women about to give birth, like our early Mormon ancestors. I saw Young Women blessing and passing the sacrament. I saw women's voices being recorded in the scriptures and in our lesson manuals. I saw women speaking in general conference with stories and experiences that I recognized, teaching and expounding doctrine.  I saw women on the stand. I felt a wholeness.  I saw a true partnership of the men and women in the church. Just the possibility of it healed me. Just imagining it gave me so much hope. I realized that what I was feeling was a righteous desire.  I was okay that we weren't there yet, but I hoped for change.  

I have admitted that the approach of Ordain Women made me uncomfortable, but silently I felt guilty for Kate Kelly taking the fall for opening such a wonderful conversation and giving so much hope.  I loved her for it and every time someone spoke unkindly about her or Ordain Women, it felt like they were saying the same to me. It came up so much at church.  It hurt and I tried to defend her.  I tried to defend us.  Part of me can't believe she'd even try to rock the boat. You can't do that! Another part of me realized that this was the only way to be heard.  It was the only way for us to start talking.  Then when she was excommunicated, my hope was gone.  Then came pain and a lot of tears. I had a false hope. I thought things could change.  I thought the brethren would pray about women's ordination or at least try to listen.  I thought other members of the church would see what I saw. Instead, they cast her out. 

People can write lengthly explanations about why Kate should have been excommunicated or how she was wrong, or how she deserved it, but all I feel is the loss of my hope.  People can speculate about why women don't hold the priesthood, but nothing feels right to me. Now I have to raise a daughter and explain to her that God does love her as much as a man and she has great potential as a complex, multifaceted daughter of God even when it doesn't always feel like it in our church.  

Lula's true love is outdoor exploration.  When we come home from anywhere, she is so sad when I make her come inside.  We need to get our fence back up so she can spend more time in the front yard.  Today she played in the sprinklers with Wyatt and Hank.  

A Post

I haven't posted forever.  I'm not totally sure why. I've been working in the evenings a lot then a lot of things happen and I feel like I need more time to write about everything.  I'm breaking the silence with some pictures.  Then I need to write about so many things.

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