The Stake President Saw Me Naked

Well, bascially. It felt like it.

I am ashamed. I have all these cute summer clothes. Mostly tank tops and shorts. I've had them for years and they're perfectly broken in. Granted, sometimes they leave little to the imagination, but with 100 degree heat I'm prepared to run around naked if that's what it takes.

Yesterday I was of course sporting the tank top and short shorts while hubby and I were dropping off a movie real quick. Normally, I wouldn't be caught dead in public wearing an outfit like that - they are generally strictly for "home use." But we were in a rush because he had to get to the stake president's office to get his recommend signed. My endowment is this weekend, and of course he's put it off until now.

We let the time get away from us, and realized that I would have to take him over to the stake center for his interview, then pick him up afterward. I dropped him off, but instead of leaving I decided to just wait in the car.

About ten minutes later hubby emerges asking for more "documentation" or something - with the stake president right behind him. I am literally thinking, "Oh, Shit." Which is perhaps not the right thing to be thinking at this juncture. I shuffled around in the backseat to try and find something to cover myself up with. (The cleavage in this shirt I was wearing is a little rediculous.) I found my girl's camp sweatshirt and just as the stake president approached the car, I wrapped it around myself.

More than a little embarassed, my husband feigned some excuse that we were swimming and tried to get him away from me.

A few things I learned on this adventure:

1. Always be prepared (i.e. don't dress slutty) to meet someone important at any time of the day.

2. My broken in clothes will no longer be feasible after this weekend.

3. Wearing garments will be a very rude awakening. But still an excuse to buy more clothes.

4. Always keep a large sweater in your car. Not only for a situation like this - but just in case you get mugged and they take your clothes.

5. Have good excuses handy.

Only One More Post on "Twilight"

Okay, I refuse to consistently talk about the series - good or bad. I was severely falling behind the "Twilight" bandwagon, so I've only just finished the first book. But I just had to add a few things.

For those of you who don't know, "Twilight" is the first in a series by BYU grad Stephenie Meyer, who also happens to be my husband's cousin.  I always feel like I have to say that because well, I have never even SEEN a famous person, let alone have one in my family, so I will certainly be the first to say, "Hey I know someone famous."

All in all the book was good. It was pretty exciting and heavily paralleled Mormonism. It was well written, and not complicated to read. I wasn't searching for meaning, I could just read it and get engrossed.

I only have a few tiffs (spoilers):

1. What's the deal with the "damsel in distress" act? It gets a little monotonous after the fourteenth time Edward must carry Bella to safety. She's completely helpless the entire time, and Edward's chivalry gets a little monotonous too.

2. Bella constantly describes how enchatingly, amazingly, wonderfully, heroically, handsome Edward is nearly every page. His cold breath, icy skin, white face, blah blah blah. I just couldn't see how he could be attractive (I guess I have a thing for tan guys.) That, and the constant Edward flattery was just over the top. By the middle of the book I wanted to ring Edwards icy, sparkling-in-the-sunlight, white as snow, neck.

Cool ways it paralleled Mormonism: (I'm sure there's a whole crap load more.)

1. The entire time Edward and Bella could barely touch or kiss for fear that Edward might get carried away and suck her blood in a fit of passion. Very similar to that of two young BYU/high school students who aren't yet married and can't touch eachother for fear it will lead to sex. I'm sure it was easy for Stephenie to describe with first hand experiences.

2. Towards the end of the book, Bella was begging Edward to suck her blood so that she could turn into a vampire and be with him forever. But the blood sucking process is very painful. Is this like temple marriage? Living the covenants and paying 10% can be pretty damn painful at first. Then of course you get to go to the temple and be sealed for eternity and reap all the blessings of an eternal life together. Much like Bella and Edward could do if they lived as vampires together forever....

For Those Who Live in Salt Lake City

I feel special as a Mormon. When I walk into the Deseret Book or Distribution Center and watch the lady in the skimpy tube dress, or the guy with the tattoo of a snake on his face stare at me, I feel happy, special....I feel like I know something they don't. Which, technically, I do. When I am searching for clothes with capped sleeves or long skirts, when I leave my Gospel Principles book on the front seat of my car, when I say I want 5 children and I'm only 23 - people who aren't Mormon get the hint. I'm proud. And of course, a convert.

I don't think you can be this excited about your religion if you've known nothing else. I love going into Deseret Book and buying overpriced paintings of temples I've never been to, foil embossed scriptures, hymn cd's, scripture highlighters, CTR rings, cheeky romantic novels with two people on the cover holding hands - It's Sorry. There's probably a better word, so excuse my lack of vocabulary. I just love being a part of all this fun stuff we do outside of church. Buying stuff at the distribution center dirt cheap, making your own "plaque" that says "Families are Forever," etc...

Except of course, when I go to a place like Idaho Falls or Salt Lake City. When you proudly go into the bookstore, no one stares at you. They follow you in. When you go into a bridal shop to search for a dress, you have to ask for a dress WITHOUT capped sleeves. Wal-Mart has special jewelry sections devoted to CTR rings, young women's necklaces, and primary bracelets. When you pass a parked car, not only is the Gospel Principles book in plain view, but amidst the four car seats you spy primary crafts, three sets of scriptures, a Young Women's guide, and ten little stick figures stuck to the back window in descending order.

I guess I never realized how hugely enormous the LDS church is. When I went to Georgia, a bunch of girls I met there had no clue what a Mormon was. At all. So I just figured I was part of something that hadn't yet grown into a huge religion. Yeah, we have our little bookstores and special clothing shops, but I underestimated us - big time.

Here are some of my former misconceptions:

1. Weddings are small and modest. HA! Have you ever opened an LDS bridal magazine? Most of these brides have doctors for fathers - therefore dropping $20,000 on a wedding reception is nothing. I thought everyone had a backyard barbecue and invited family only. I guess you can save a lot more money if you omit a ceremony and pool all the funds into a killer reception!

2. The only LDS author is Stephenie Meyer. While the Twilight series is probably the most popular now, there is a ridiculous amount of books by LDS authors about LDS stuff. Love, family, fiction, non-fiction. There's an entire library on dating, which doesn't surprise me at all.

3. Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre are the only movies ever made by a Mormon. Correction: There are huge LDS themed production companies that have made millions upon millions of dollars and continue to distribute all types of movies, both about Mormons, and by Mormons.

4. LDS bloggers are lonely and are quite outnumbered by Anti-Mormon sites on the web. Pffttt. That's all I have to say.

In short, I severely underestimated the whole "Mormon" culture thing. Going to Salt Lake City was a huge eye opener. It's like no one there has ever heard of a tank top, or Starbucks. I guess it's just a culture!

Mormon Porn

In the process of looking up stuff for my upcoming temple wedding, it's interesting that search engines will find just as much Anti-Mormon material as they do LDS themed websites.

I looked on YouTube for LDS temple wedding videos - you know the artsy, beautiful montages made of couples right outside the Salt Lake Temple, most often in the dead of winter... I was getting ideas. Then, on that brilliant little square to the right are similar videos that YouTube thinks you might be interested in - some of them blatantly attacking the Mormon faith. Even some that re-enact sacred temple stuff. (Didn't watch...)

This goes for Google too. I Googled, "LDS wedding invitation wording" or something to that effect - and ended up on sites that are ex-Mormon, try to de-bunk our faith - whatever.

Looking at Anti-Mormon websites is kind of like looking at porn. (Not that I've ever looked at porn...) It can get just as addictive and all the while you have this really disgusted look on your face and feel so sorry for all the people involved. I've read people's stories on how they left the church after 40 years, how the temple ceremony was terrifying, how Mormons can't be Christians, why Mormons are wrong, how spouses cheated, and tons of other material. I just kept delving deeper and all the while just feeling so sad that nothing anyone will say to them will ever change their thoughts. Because now, they are so far into it, that turning around and coming back out would be a blow to their self-esteem. So they keep trying to disprove our religion, hurt our feelings by putting all their effort into silly videos, twisting all our beliefs, practices, and values around to make us seem like cultish followers.

I guess here's my response to all those who left the church, or never really looked into our faith, and continue to bad-mouth and ridicule us:

To those who left, I notice a theme in your stories. Something bad happened, a divorce, a death, and left you in question. Or you went to the temple, or heard a story about something Mormons believe, and were taken aback when you found out the truth. Learning something new is always hard. We aren't always used to the things we are taught. Especially in life. So when you hear about a strange "Mormon" practice, remember that it's almost like trying to understand the Universe for the first time. Or trying to understand that yes, you DO have a push a watermelon out of your vagina. Or trying to wrap your mind around the whole "Ark" thing, and how Noah could fit all those animals on one boat. At first, it just doesn't make sense and is hard to believe. But after awhile, it's so easy to get caught up in what the rest of the world thinks about Mormons. It's EASY to be a part of that group that tries to de-bunk our faith because it feels good to be in the majority. The majority believes that Noah put all those animals on the Ark with no problem. If no one else thought that, and only MORMONS thought that, I'm sure we would sound nuts.

It's funny how Anti-Mormons will find anything possible to make us look bad. The fact that we are little marriage and baby factories. The fact that we don't drink coffee or tea or booze because were "better" than everyone else. The fact that we get married in temples, not in churches or on beaches, or in Vegas. The fact that we use symbolism of any sort, and won't tell everyone about it. The fact that we wear special underwear. The fact that we have missionaries always knocking on people's doors. But does all this really make us look bad? No. It makes us look DIFFERENT. And people are afraid of different. Nothing that Mormons do or believe is BAD. People just aren't used to it. In fact, as we all know, Mormons are actually really good people in general. It depends on the person of course, but as a whole, we tend to do good things and be good people. Our "Karma" is called "blessings" and we do things accordingly.

The rumor mill goes 'round and people hear all sorts of things about the Mormon faith. Many times people leave the church frustrated and alone. They start anti-Mormon websites, where people can gather and "recover" from Mormonism. I'm not going to poke fun at what "recovering" might entail, but I think it has to do with alcohol and rated R movies. Being a Mo' is hard. Reading people's anti-testimonies is hard. Living the Word of Wisdom, and abiding by all our crazy "rules" is hard. If you don't want to do it, fine. But just because you have to have a smoke or drink a bit of booze or mess up every now and then, doesn't mean you have to leave the church. Just because you don't feel the Spirit 24 hours a day, or when you're going through the temple, or at really important times, doesn't mean that it's God telling you that you're wrong. We are human, and have human emotions, and everything we do isn't perfect. So if you're reading or doing something in the church and feel nervous or weird, that's natural. Granted, it's not like were having orgies in the temple like my Grandmother once thought - and its not like what we do is THAT strange. Good grief.

Alright, that's enough of that. Back to my point of Mormon Porn being a problem. We are encouraged NOT to read this stuff. I would agree for many people. Sometimes people are gullible, or just get blinded by things people say so much that they shouldn't look at it. On the other hand, it challenges us to "re-convert" ourselves sometimes. Especially for those who grew up in the church, it's vitally important that you do your research and convert yourselves instead of following like sheep. These sites only make my testimony stronger. Not to mention it's kind of fun when you point out all the wrong things people think about us.

That Vampire Book Written by a Mo'

I don't read. I've heard that if you want to be a good writer, you have to read. Well, I read magazines and blogs. Aside from the occasional self-help book, I really just find fiction a waste of time. (I'd much rather see a movie.) The one book that I actually ever called my favorite is "Speak," which was later made into a Lifetime movie. I read that in 9th grade. I figured I better spruce up a little so, begrudgingly, I've jumped on the "Twilight" bandwagon.

I first heard of this fiction tale via my niece, who pointed out the book in Wal-Mart saying, "It's soooo good. It's about this girl, and she falls in love with a vampire." I laughed aloud and quite rudely threw the book down in disgust. "Sounds so lame." I still feel bad for that.

Anyway, on a road trip to the temple with a bunch of the Young Women, they began talking about the book too. And how it was written by a Mormon! I couldn't believe that a book about vampires could be written by a Mormon. It's also on the bestseller list, and a much "bigger" book than I had realized. Later I asked my husband about some book called "Timeless" and whether or not he had heard of it.

He corrected me saying: "It's called Twilight, and my cousin wrote it."

Me: "Ahem. What?"

Apparently, Stephenie's dad is my husband's mom's brother!

Awesome! So now out of family obligation, I had to start reading it. Of course, as many books I DO end up reading often do, I became lost in the story and was halfway through in one evening.

So far, the other leaders and Young Women have started talking about Edward and Bella like they're almost real, or a part of our daily lives. Church has become somewhat of a book club. And this is how I found out that a movie will be released on December 12th of this year.

I Googled it, and watched the trailer. It looks pretty freekin' awesome. However, strangely enough, the very same girl that played the main character in my first fave "Speak" is also the main character in the "Twilight" movie.

In any case, if you haven't joined in - I suggest you get on it. Apparently, there's more than one book - it's a whole series! So I need to get caught up.

When Praying Doesn't Really Pay

This weekend my husband and I took a trip to Boise, Idaho. It's where I grew up, where my family lives, and only three short hours away from where we currently live.

My husband went fishing, so I was going to pick him up on my way out of town Thursday evening. I left around 5pm, in the blazing heat of the day. I packed my two cats into a carrier, and a duffel bag into the trunk, and headed out. (I'm one of those "cat" people. The kind that has a calendar, leash, and ultimate scratching post/cat tree.) My husband was about twenty miles away, and at around mile 17 my car went from 85 miles per hour, down to 75, down to 65 as I tried to gas it. I pulled over to the side of the road, and my car died.

I sat there, allowing the sun to creep into the windows, diminishing all traces of air conditioning. Cars sped past me, rocking my little car with their 85 MPH wind wake. I carefully got out, and took my panting cats out of the inferno-esque car. I didn't see this one coming. A cop pulled over and gave me the low down on how long I could leave my car abandoned on the side of the road. I sat in the small amount of shade my car provided on the side of the road. My enormously over-sized movie star glasses made my face drip with sweat. I promised that my car wouldn't be one of those with the bright orange sticker on it, and spray paint on the windows left for dead on the highway.

My husband drove his truck and came and got me. We drove a mile into American Falls with the A/C blasting and got a corn dogs and chocolate milk shakes. When we came back to my POS Neon, she started up again. We slowly made our way back to town, and my husband followed me - but not before the same cop could pull him over for swerving. (His steering is going out.) My car died at the off ramp stop light, and our cop friend came and pushed me. He finally said, "Looks like you two need a new car."

While my husband isn't Mr. Mechanic, he got a new Radiator and A/C relay. Whatever that means. We decided to leave the next morning (without our felines), assuming it was fixed, and said extra hard prayers to the effect of, "Please let us know if the car is going to die BEFORE we leave. Please don't let us get stranded. Please, please, PLEASE!!!"

170 miles later, my car died once again in the blazing heat of the day. 65 miles away from Boise. We were under a bridge. The only shade for 20 miles in both directions. If you're not from any state in the west, here's what to expect: Sagebrush on top of sagebrush for miles in all directions, pavement so hot it makes your tires melt, and wind that will tear your skin right off. While I was secretly appreciative for the shade, we both tried not to laugh, cry, or yell and stayed calm. What now? We waited a few minutes until it "cooled down" (assuming that was the problem) and continued to the next town. Consisting of a restaurant/convenience store and a Mocha Hut, the small village of Hammett was of no help. Other than the refuge we took in their air conditioning. We continued, and it died again on the freeway. We turned on the heat to cool the radiator, rolled down the windows, and tried to putt-putt our way there stopping for an oil change at Wal-Mart in Mountain Home. (40 miles from Boise.) And to wick away our sweat-drenched bodies.

At around 5:30pm we arrived. Seven and a half hours from the time we left at 10am. A trip that should have taken all of about 3 hours.

The weekend went great. My husband and brother gave my car an internal makeover, and we made it home today just fine.

Maybe praying DOESN'T work all the time? Maybe Heavenly Father has a different plan for us in the way of car repair. I guess if I had never payed attention to the problems NOW, I could have had this problem while driving to get my endowment, or driving to Boise again to get sealed. Now THAT would have been bad. Do we just make excuses for unanswered prayers? Does He always have a reason? I wouldn't be lying if I said I didn't think so.

What Can You Do?

While shopping the other day, I noticed a man who had no teeth, a greasy baseball cap on, and peeking under his wife beater was a hairy beer belly. I was quick to judge, and assumed, like all other Americans, he was a piece of white trash. No job, on welfare, sucking off the government. Probably had thirty kids that were contributing to society in no way, and probably weren't all his. I left the store with all my groceries, piled high in plastic bags. I saw him and his wife and three kids leaving the store with a cart full of green re-usable bags and realized how wrong I was. For he wasn't the part of the group who would ultimatley be responsible for the demise of our environment, I was. No matter how much more money I had, or how great I looked, or how my job was contributing to the betterment of society - it wouldn't matter if we couldn't even live on our own planet anymore.
We Mormons are VERY interested in the welfare of our children and grandchildren. We try to also see eternal perspective. We need to remember that while we are chilling out in the Spirit World, our children's children's children will be chilling out on Earth. We should teach our kids now that protecting the Earth isn't just for democratic "tree huggers."
On June 4th, I attended an economic symposium in Idaho. Here's what it said in a pamphlet I received.

1. If the thermostat in every house in America were lowered 1 degree Farhrenheit during the winter, the nation would save 230 million barrels of crude oil.
2. If every American would spend 1 minute less each day in the shower, they would save 1,000 gallons of water per person, per year.

3. ONE hour of using gas-operated leaf blower produces the same amout of greenhouse gas as a car driving 4,400 miles.

4. If every American switched to receiving just one bill as an e-statement instead of paper, the one-time savings would be 217,800,000 sheets of paper.

5. If just one passenger per flight in the world this year packed 1 pound less luggage, they would save enough fuel to fly a Boeing 737 around the world 474 times.

6. If every American household turned off the lights for one hour, they would prevent more than 16,610 tons of carbon dioxide from being released.

7. 88 billion plastic bags are used in the U.S. each day. This represents 12 million barrels of oil. Less than 1 percent of plastic bags get recycled.

8. Household batteries contain hazardous materials that leak into the atmosphere. Instead, buy a set of rechargables.

9. Catalogs, newspapers, and magazines add up to more than 4 million tons of paper per year. Cancel your printed subscriptions and get the online versions.

10. Only 8 out of 10 water bottles are recycled. It takes 15 million barrels of oil per year to produce water bottles, enough to fuel 100,000 cars. Instead, pick up a resusable water bottle and install a filter on your faucet.

11. If every American did four out of five loads of wash in cold water, it could keep 50 tons of carbon emissions out of the atmosphere per year.

12. Minimize the use of ventilating fans in your kitchen, bath, and utility area. Just ONE hour of use can pull out a house full of warm air in the winter, and cool air in the summer.

13. TV's, DVD's, and electrical equipment still use SEVERAL watts of power in standby mode. Plug electronics into a power strip, and turn off when not in use.

14. Americans throw away about 40 billion soft drink cans and bottles every year. Placed end to end, they would reach the moon and back twenty times!

15. If all the cars on U.S. roads had properly inflated tires, it would save nearly 2 billion gallons of gas per year.