Coming Out of the Closet

My husband and I were engaged in an interesting conversation yesterday. We were talking about our weekend plans, and noticed that we have no "Mormon" friends. All the people we hang out with (see previous post) tend to really be the polar opposite of what we need to be around. I say "need" because hubby and I seem to take on the role of whoever we hang around for awhile. Like our neighbor, the 19 year old high school dropout with a 3 year old child, no job, no money, who does lines of crack on the hood of her car in the middle of the night with strange hoodlums, has sex with random people she later tells us about, and uses our washing machine almost daily...(inhale) I'm not that bitter, though. We like helping people and sometimes she's fun to be around. All this "helping" however, has her at our house 24/7 practically and her potty mouth rubs off on us. We were already pretty potty-mouthed to begin with, but lately as we have been trying to be "good" we've wanted to change all that. It's also rare to find a couple our age to hang out with who don't already have kids. Our other neighbors are in our ward and they don't have kids yet. Their weekend activities include...World of Warcraft. That's it. Sorry, I can't handle WoW talk anymore than I have endured already when hubby went through that phase.

So what's this "Coming Out of the Closet" I speak of? Well, during our talk about our lack of friends, husband made a good point.

"Do you think that when Mormons get together, they try to be all 'good' and not swear, or get angry, or talk about sex - then when they get home alone with their wife they act just like us? Or do you think everyone but us is 'good'?"

I don't know... Maybe a little bit of both! Is that nice dentist and his perfect wife from church really the way they seem? Or does he say "DAMNIT!" when he spills pop on the carpet? Does she leave the dishes in the sink for whole week? Do they talk dirty while doing the hibbidy dibbity?

All the questions are valid, and I would really like to know the answer from any Mormons who have some insight on this topic.

A Drunken Weekend

We had an awesome weekend. My husband and I joined his sister and her friends and family (the niece and nephew we spend all our time with) at a local reservoir for camping, hiking, fishing, and just hanging out. We took the speedboat out on the water and fished until sunset. We caught a few bass and my husband learned to cook them on the fire. All in all, it was great.

The only stick in my side was the fact that my husband and I were the ONLY adults not drinking alcohol. For three solid days, there were at least 20 adults (adults mind you, some not over 21) that were so drunk that the smell of alcohol radiated from their pores. There were also about 10 children that were exposed to their belligerent parents stumbling around and waking them up at four in the morning. The drunks would hop in their cars and drive around like it was no big deal. Then they would drive the speedboat around like wild banshees. The children weren’t fazed at all however, as this is apparently a regular practice.

My husband and I tried to keep the children occupied and away from all the drunken banter happening near the campfire. As the weekend rolled on, the children must have figured out that we weren’t drinking, so they followed us everywhere we went.

I constantly get the classic question, “Why can’t Mormons drink? A little alcohol is good for you!”

Why? Because you can’t control yourself. Some people can. Some can’t. Why take a chance and ruin the lives of your children, your family, and yourself? Yes, drinking alcohol is “fun” to you – but what about those around you? YOU may not be an alcoholic, but what about the people you associate with?

I thank God so much for the Word of Wisdom. There is a reason that He doesn’t want us to drink alcohol, and I saw it this weekend. Not that I needed one weekend to understand – my father was an alcoholic. I also hope that those who were raised in the church and were never exposed to it are thankful for the blessings they received.

On a side note, I don’t think we would have had as much fun had we not gone with a bunch of drunken lunatics. We drove around to find some fishing spots, and came upon a “Mormon” campsite. Either that or these people loved polos, capped sleeves, long shorts, and tons of children. They had just as many people as us, but no one was laughing. The children were all confined to the “grassy” area, and the adults were all sitting around in chairs, holding babies. Their campers were new and shiny without a smudge of dirt on them, and the men tended to their wives instead of hanging out with the guys.

If we had gone camping with them, we’d have been the life of the party!

Do the Rich Go to Heaven?

Matthew 19:23-25, Mark 10:24-26, Luke 18:24-26 all tell of the same story in which Jesus speaks these words.

"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven."

"And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."

"When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?"

"But many who are first will be last. And many who are last will be first."

I live in a primarily LDS area, and many of them are very wealthy. I've noticed this is a trend among the church. Dentists, doctors, lawyers, stock brokers, financial planners, etc... There are SO many upper-class people who are members. I'd like to know your thoughts on this.

The Perfect Calling

I've had one calling in my life, and that was to run the Enrichment meetings on Wednesday nights. Since I was a nomad in college, that lasted all of about a month. I've never really gotten a chance to have a real calling.

But now that my husband and I have settled down, I am very excited to announce that I have a NEW calling. I will be a Young Women's advisor, more specifically the Mia Maids advisor! Okay - it's not like I'm the RS president, but I seriously think Heavenly Father was inspiring the bishop when they picked this one.

Every weekend I hang out with my 13 year old niece and her friend. First of all because it's fun, and having family over all weekend is what I look forward to. Secondly, I am hoping that by hanging out at my house, I can be a "good influence" and keep them out of trouble. They both consider me to be a best friend (second only to each other), and so they tell me everything. Which is scary because I have found that they have pregnant, lesbian, gay, sexually active, peers who are considered "popular" at their school. Fortunatley, I have also found that they both have good heads on their shoulders. My niece comes from a Lutheran father, and an inactive LDS mother, so she only goes to church when she's at Nana and Papa's house. Her friend isn't a member. But this Sunday they asked if they could go to church with us. Strange, because Mormon church for a 13 year old is like pulling teeth. It's almost that way for me sometimes.

We went to church and I was sustained. Then absolutely the MOST boring talks occured, assuredly reaffirming my nieces former thoughts on church. Her friend tried to pay attention, but was too focused on the fact that she wore sporty capri pants to church instead of a skirt. We wrote notes back and forth, and my husband tried to keep the spirit by playing a matching game. He wrote down the names of people in the Bible and BoM and made us guess their description. The girls and I drew lines from "Adam" to "ate the apple" and from Moses to "parted the red sea." From "Noah" to "built the ark" and from "Moroni" to "buried the plates." We got all the Bible ones right, and got stuck on the more difficult BoM ones.

Then we went to Dairy Queen for Sunday School. I was trying to do my best to convince the girls to stay for Young Women's, which was becoming more difficult as the weekend's boredom came to a head. So we had some ice cream, and sneaked back into church. The talk was on endowments. Since I haven't even gotten mine yet, I thought it was strangely appropriate to talk about it.

My talk next week is preparing to go to the temple, which I will be doing on 08/08/08.

So this calling will not only encourage my niece and her friend to attend church for nothing other than to "hang out" with me at this point, but it will also give me a chance to actually know what Young Women's is like. I never went, so I have no clue what you are supposed to learn. But maybe that's why God wants me there - to learn too! I mean, how perfect is it to have two talks on the two next steps in my own salvation - the endowment and temple marriage! I also will need to get the inactive girls to come to church, which I hope will be easy since 13 year olds tend to think I'm "cool" already... well, I think.

This truly was the perfect calling!

Visiting Teaching

I have never gone visiting teaching, and I have only ever had them come over twice. Last night was one of those times, and I can surprisingly say that it wasn't as awkward as I thought it would be. Sometimes the lovely women of the LDS persuasion tend to be a little withdrawn, shy, or socially awkward. (At least the most I have known.) Thankfully, last night I was able to be myself, talk about the fact that I AM a convert (instead of hiding it), and get a good message at the same time.

One woman looked about 19, but I knew for a fact she had 4 kids. She was pretty, blonde, and had braces. The other was tall, thin, and also looked quite young. She was a married student with no children. I said, "Geez, looks like were off in our own little boat together!" Referencing the fact that we were both married with no kids. At that point I had yet to find another couple like this. We began talking about children and the other woman said, "Yeah, I have the typical Mormon family!"

I was surprised. She was raised in the church, her dad is a bishop, she has the 4 kids and a dentist for a husband - so is it possible to fit literally every stereotype and STILL be Normal? Apparently so. Her and her husband just bought Rock Band, so I am pretty sure we need to be friends. Then I found out she was 32. I wouldn't have even guess late 20's.

It seems that every friend I make is either 10 years older than me (sister-in-law), or 10 years younger (niece) - Who both happen to be my best friends right now.

So... it's possible to be Normal even if you are the "picture-perfect" Mormon family. Whew.

I Went to Baptist Church on Sunday

Since it was Mother's Day, I catered to my mom who wanted to attend Baptist church. I had forgotten my church clothes altogether, but she said it didn't matter what I wore, because everyone there wears jeans and t-shirts. So, my grandma, my mom, and I all drove into downtown Boise to attend church.

The parking lot was full, and the church was nestled among a little old neighborhood. The moment I walked in, the smell of coffee hit my like a ton of bricks. We entered on the lower level, and looked above us to see a landing that lead into the chapel. The architecture was modern, with lots of glass, metal, and fancy carpet. We went up the stairs. Casually dressed teenagers were chatting in a group, and families were putting their kids into the nursery nearby. In the chapel, people were turning and shaking the hands of their neighbors.

Mom: Oh good, we didn’t miss the meet and greet.

She led me over to the pastor to introduce us. He was shorter, probably in his late 40’s early 50’s, wore glasses, had tan skin and distinguished gray hair. He wore a light blue button up shirt, with rolled up sleeves, and khaki slacks. He wasn’t particularly good-looking, but he resembled maybe a car salesman. He shook my hand, and started up more conversation with my mom, who was ecstatic to be introducing us.

I jumped when the sound of drums resonated through the church. A band began playing an upbeat song. Upon closer inspection, I saw that there was a stage with a full band playing. Electric guitars, drums, microphones, the works… The giant silver organ was behind them, and above it was a projector screen with the words to the current song in a funky font. The woman singing looked almost identical to Carrie Underwood, and people were “gently” jamming out in the pews. We found a spot to sit, and my mom and grandma began clapping. I didn’t really know what to do, so I kind of swayed back and forth, smiling. I then lit my fake lighter and proceeded to hold it up, kind of as a joke. My mom and grandma had no problem copying me, and laughed.

All the while I’m thinking – Hey, this is pretty awesome. We need a sacrament meeting like this!

After two more songs…and 15 minutes of standing, we sat down and another Carrie Underwood-esque woman began to speak.

“It’s Mother’s Day, can I get an ‘Amen!’”

The church responded, “Amen!”

Her small introduction has us saying “Amen” at least twice more before Pastor Bob – or Joe – came up. He began to talk about the story in the Bible of the prophet Elijah, when God told him to go stay with this woman who wasn’t Christian. The point of the story was giving, or tithing. Mom broke out her “study” guide, where there was a list of reasons NOT to give, and the reasons they should be overcome. Here was a synopsis of the pastor’s talk (almost perfectly accurate too.)

“Did you know that rich people give less, and poor people give more? That’s how it always is. The rich give less percentage wise of what they have, and the poor give more of a percent of what they have. Only 2.4% of what people have is given to God. I knew someone that went to a church in (some middle eastern country), and they tithed regularly, no matter how poor they were. They weren’t Mormons, they were Christians….”

I stopped listening for a moment to remove the dagger he just stabbed into my chest. Ouch, man. Then I began thinking – wouldn’t this problem of giving be solved if everyone just gave 10 percent like the Bible says? Funny thing though, my mom and grandma’s tithing goes to the pastors salary, not the needy.

He continued, and I looked around at how quiet everything was. Ah, no kids, I realized. All the children and babies were in the nursery. (This is one thing that we need to do in our church.) The projector screen displayed the points of the pastor’s talk, and funky graphics to go along with it. After more singing and dancing, the sermon was over. While the whole thing was “fun” and the story was actually interesting, I was spiteful.

A few hours later at home, my best friend from elementary school came over, and as always, the topics of conversation were religion and politics. It’s a good thing we all agree politically (go Hillary!), but in our happy little mix was a Mormon, a Jew (my friend), a Baptist, and a Lutheran (Grandma). We are always able to talk about religion in a calm and cool way…without arguing. I tried to explain the degrees of heaven, the spirit world, etc… and surprisingly, none of them objected or argued.

My mom began talking about what she believed in and I was taken aback once again. She didn’t believe that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were all one being. She believed they were all separate. I thought Baptists didn’t think that way, and only Mormons believed they were separate. She then began saying how she wants to live on the “new Earth” not on some “cloud” in the skies when she dies. She wanted to live on the terrestrial kingdom? She also said she believed that there was a “place” where everyone goes before they die, not to Heaven right away. I told her all about the spirit world and its purpose. She told me more about what she believed, and none of it conflicted with our teachings. Aside from her dependence on coffee and cigarettes. I found a segue and poured out the story of Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and almost everything. After which she said:

“Okay, so say I believe all that. What if SATAN was actually doing all this? What if Satan was the one who inspired Joseph Smith and are leading all of you astray?”

I replied, “Why would Satan want us to be good people? He’s not inspiring us to go kill people. Mormons are known for being “good people,” so how can Satan really have anything to do with that?”

It all made sense to her. She didn’t say “Sign me up” or anything, but she understood surprisingly well. But I had to start my drive home, and didn’t have time to continue.

I think slowly, she will begin to understand. I want the missionaries to go over there, but I don’t want her to think I am trying to convert her. I just want her to understand more than anything else.

Here’s hoping!

Praying Pays In Little Ways

Scratch That: TITHING pays in BIG ways.

Just another small note. My husband and I hadn't paid our ever. Since we are going to get sealed in the temple here pretty soon (08/08/08!) we started about a month ago. I just transfer the money right over into a savings account, then write a check every two weeks or so.

By giving just ONE check thus far (and having a pile in savings), our monthly income has - get this - nearly tripled! This would be thanks to my husband's job. We sat down to lunch today and he said - "Honey, do you realized we have made over ___ thousand dollars this month?" I was like..."Uh, WHAT?"

We were so scared because we were barley scraping by before. But we sucked it up, and forked over a check, knowing that there are so many people who are far worse off than us - and that God would make sure we were okay. Well, Heavenly Father has definetly blessed us, and it even looks as though I will be making more commission at my job too! While I know things aren't always going to be this good, and they might get better, (both our jobs are basically commission based), I think Heavenly Father will keep a look out if we do what we are asked.

Woo hoo tithing!

Readers Update

So, in case you were wondering - Here are some stats on the blog that may be of some interest!

We started the end of February 2008.

We get an average of about 50 hits a day. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Once we got around 200!

There are about 20 subscribers.

Keep it going folks! Woo hoo. (Hey, small numbers but I am still excited.)

Cutting Out Early - A Sunday Story

Yesterday my husband and I got in a fight before church. He was still laying in bed, and I was nagging at him to get up and shave his "14 O'Clock Shadow" as I put it. He refused to shave - but I refused to let him go to church looking like a caveman, so I told him not to even bother getting dressed.

I stormed out of the house and drove to church, where I sat in the third row all nervous and heated. I practiced my closing prayer in my head, constantly looking back at the door to see if my husband had changed his mind and decided to come. I texted him, but no answer. I was so mad that he wasn't there for my first prayer, because I didn't know when to go up - or what to do really - and I needed his help. When it was time for my prayer, I said something like this:

Our Father in Heaven, we are so grateful for the testimonies heard today
And we are so very grateful for this fast Sunday
We ask that the testimonies heard today will inspire each of us to strengthen our own testimonies
And we ask that our fasting and prayers help those in need, and our own families
We humbly say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

My closed eyelids were shaking, and I was worried that my skirt was tucked into my underwear or something, since the bishopric was sitting two feet behind me the whole time.

It went pretty well, but the moment I was finished I grabbed my purse and bolted out of church and went home.

As I was walking in to my house, I spotted my Mormon neighbor. His wife must have stayed home too, but he was just now leaving to go to church.

Husband was sitting on the couch playing video games. I went upstairs and got dressed in a tank top and shorts, and began to furiously clean the house. I made sure to stomp by the TV frequently, and opened up the blinds to let the sun shine in so he couldn't see the screen.

As my temper died down, I finally broke down and just said - "Hey, let's have a barbecue." So we loaded up the kids (neices, and nephew) and went to the store and bought burgers, hotdogs, charcoal, and the works. We remembered we needed plates, cups, and utensils, so we headed home real quick to grab some.

As we pulled into our apartment complex, we spotted a lady from our ward walking home from church. Her back was to us, so we stopped the car and began slowly creeping backwards, so she wouldn't spot us.

Husband: "I didn't know she lived here too!"
Me: "Oh crap, I think she's coming to visit us!"

We all watched intently from the car, which was stopped in the dead middle of the parking lot, as the woman approached our door....

She passed it up and proceeded to walk through our yard to her house. But then she stopped. And started talking to another woman from the ward!

Me: "Good grief, everyone who lives here is from our church!"
Husband: "Pull into the spot behind my truck, maybe she won't see us."

So I did. But the tactic failed horribly and we were within perfect view. I reversed slowly, and hid behind the truck.

Kids: "Is she gone?"
Me: *creeps up* "Yes!"

We ran inside, grabbed everything we needed, then went to the (deserted) park. We were all alone, and had a wonderful time. Although, Mormon families kept pulling into their houses across the street, which was a bit awkward. We cooked elk steak, burgers, hot dogs, and had smores. Even though I cut out early, and my husband didn't even end up going to church, we had a great picnic.

Sunday Prayer

For the first time since I joined the church, I will be saying the closing prayer in Sacrament meeting this week. I know it might not be a big deal for everyone else, but I am pretty nervous about the whole thing. I have secretly been practicing in my head, and I just hope I don't revert to my childhood Baptist "Dear Baby Jesus" prayers.

When I pray in front of other people, I usually do pretty well. I start with "Our Father in Heaven..." but try to avoid the prayer template. (Below)

My husband and I were talking about this, and he said, "Just make sure to include lots of "Thee's" "Thou's" and "Thy's."

I laughed. But he wasn't kidding. He said that someone might end up talking to me after Sacrament about it if I didn't. On his mission, a new member got up and started praying without "Thee" or "Thou" and the Bishop talked to them afterwards about including it in their prayers from now on.

"Umm, how about I pray the way I want to? I mean, I won't be waving my hands and "Praisin' Jesus" - but I don't want to sacrifice content for formality. Thinking about adding "thy" instead of "your" will make me get all jumbled up." I said.

He agreed. He just didn't want me to feel bad if someone said something to me. If someone came up to me and said I had to start using "Thee" and "Thou" I might leave the ward.

Yes, there is a certain way to pray. And for those who DO use the formal words and prayer template, I don't blame you. Not only was it the way Mormons were taught, but it's also a way to "fit in." Heavenly Father knows me. He knows that the way I pray is reverent and formal - not fake. If I started using the vain "repetition" that everyone else does, knowing it's not right for me especially, prayer would no longer be about praying. It would be about trying to fit in with everyone else, and sounding like a sheep.

To a point, I will stay within the loose prayer guidelines. But I won't be using the same voice inflection, or trying to input Thee's and Thou's. I want to say a prayer so that people will pay attention instead of zoning out like I do. The only prayers I tend to pay attention to are those that are unique. So that's what I want to be, unique!

The Mormon Prayer Template

Our Dear Kind and Gracious Heavenly Father

We are so very grateful to be able to gather here this Sabbath Day

We are grateful for: (Insert Sacrament speakers here) who were able to (enlighten, regail, bore) us with their testimonies.

And we ask that Thou wildst bless those who were unable to join us.

We ask that Thou would bless our family and friends (with good health, so that they may have the holy spirit with them, to bring something other than Jell-O to the picnic)

And we also ask, Dear Heavenly Father, that we will take the words spoken here today and apply them in our own lives

We humbly say these things in the Holy Name of Thy Son Jesus Christ Amen