All posts by Michelle L.

About Michelle L.

(Blog Team) never folds laundry and her car is a mess. She runs through the streets of Salt Lake City, UT, takes lots of photos, plays Uno with her five fabulous boys and buys way too many dresses for the little princess. Her husband is the most romantic man in the world because he does all the Costco shopping AND hauls it into the house (sorry to make you jealous girls). She writes at Scenes from the Wild.

parenting reboot

Before a baby ever rests in our arms, most of us seek out parenting role models– people who have climbed the mountain ahead of us and can offer a few bits of wisdom. In books and in person, I’ve modeled my parenting after dozens of other families a few years or a few decades ahead of me.

Now, my kids are getting older (ages 10-22) and I still seek out families a few steps ahead of me (I’ve already targeted some fantastic mother-in-law and grandparenting role models) but I also make an effort to step back, spend time with younger families and learn from them. Continue reading

promote greater understanding

We suffered a maelstrom last week. Many of you witnessed the chaos. And this time around I think both definitions apply:

mael·strom

noun \mal-strem, -sträm\

: a situation in which there are a lot of confused activities, emotions, etc.

: a very powerful whirlpool; a large, swirling body of water. A free vortex with  considerable downdraft.

I’m sure many of you felt the confusion and the downdraft last week as we sought to make sense of Kate Kelly’s excommunication. After taking a few days to let emotions settle, we want to strengthen and rebuild our relationships with each other.

We know some readers have vowed to remove Segullah from their reading list. And we want to apologize and explain and possibly, hopefully, promote greater understanding among Segullah readers, LDS women and our beloved friends of other faiths.

I believe we have an incredible opportunity to increase love, understanding and communication among women. I also believe we can strengthen each others’ faith and promote positive changes in our own families and congregations.

First, a little more transparency. For years, Segullah has been known as a haven for faithful and intelligent LDS women. Our mission statement reads:

The mission of Segullah is to encourage literary and artistic talent, provoke thought and promote greater understanding and faith among Latter-day Saint women. We encourage insightful writings which explore life’s richness and complexity while reflecting faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our aim is to highlight a variety of women’s perspectives within a framework of shared beliefs and values.

We’ve discussed many difficult topics and you have certainly strengthened my faith.  I’ve appreciated the opportunity to discuss sensitive subjects and learn different viewpoints.

Our staff and our readers represent a wide range “within a framework of shared beliefs and values.” Segullah has been a unique place where women strive to understand each other rather than divide into factions.

I think you’ve given me a 3D view of the gospel—I used to look at the gospel like a flat surface and now it’s more like a prism. I can turn it in all directions and admire the way different people see the light.

Wait— I just made myself sound incredibly serene and tolerant. I’m not. But it felt lovely to pretend for a moment. Just last week offended one of my friends in the grand maelstrom. I’ve said more than my fair share of foolish words. But I do want to improve.

We are not a church who believes in a limited number of spots in heaven. We believe God wants every one of His children to return home. We don’t need to keep a scoresheet of our virtues and point out the faults of everyone else. Rather, our primary task on this earth is loving our neighbor, gathering everyone in, helping all of God’s children to feel his love.

Because we abide by so many rules (and I love rules, how I love rules!), we sometimes measure our progress by checking the box, by congratulating ourselves, “I don’t struggle with that.”

But I know, I know, God doesn’t want us to bury our questions and especially not our questioners. Together we can often make sense of hard doctrines or simply offer support. A few years ago, I wrote a post called, “When Faith Makes it Harder” while navigating a crisis. my post isn’t much, but the comments! The comments. I’ve rarely received so much love, grace and understanding. The words of many wise women offered me a not just a lifeline when I was slipping under, but hands pulling me into the boat.

We want Segullah to offer that kind of support to every reader.

But sometimes we’re going to disagree.

Conflict is natural and not always negative. There’s room for constructive conflict among sisters in the gospel. Just because I disagree with my husband doesn’t mean our marriage is over. And on some topics—my darling hubby and I will never agree, but we still love each other.

When making bread, we can’t simply place ingredients in a bowl and hope they form dough. A certain amount of mixing and kneading is required to form a loaf. Likewise, our sisterhood can benefit from a bit of mixing and kneading. Asking questions aids in developing faith.

At Segullah, we do want to remain in shared framework. We can ask questions and discuss concerns without recruiting others to agree. We want to avoid labels and increase understanding. We’re navigating rough waters, but I believe we can discuss difficult issues while remaining respectful of each other and our varied opinions.

I also believe we can create positive change in the church. Our Editor-in-Chief, Shelah Miner, was recently invited to meet with the church PR department. My friend Rachel Herrscher attended a separate gathering where church leaders asked for input on how the church can make women feel more valued and loved in their congregations. Both were told (and I’m paraphrasing), “We read your blogs, we listen to your opinions. We are happy to take suggestions where they might be applicable.”

We CAN speak up and be heard. And if we discuss matters with kindness and civility we will be heard.

Here’s my idea for improvement in the church (and I hope you’ll contribute some of yours in the comments): When a bishopric is released they are given some sort of notice or timeline when change is coming. I think it would be respectful to offer that courtesy to women in the Primary, Young Women and Relief Society presidencies. I’ve seen women plan six months of Young Women activities only to be released the following week and have all their plans discarded much to the distress of the leaders and the girls. I believe we could facilitate easier and less emotional transitions and I believe prior notice conveys respect for womens’ time and efforts.

What are your ideas?

Can we build greater trust and faith? Can we make this a safe haven? Can we be gentle with each other in our thoughts and comments? Can we help each other, support each other through rocky terrain and perilous waters on our way back to God?

 

 

 

 

stay close to the hero

You may have heard about the restrictions placed on missionaries in Russia and surrounding countries. When writing home, they are not allowed to name any members or investigators, to discuss church activities or anything involving the government. No one can appear in photos but themselves– not even their companion.

Still, I haven’t minded because rather than reading about what my son in the Russia Yekaterinburg Mission is doing, we get to hear about what he’s thinking and feeling. I think all his letters are extraordinary, (I’m his mama) but this excerpt is worth sharing:

I used to think of my life as a story. I thought about how some details would be important and how others would just fade away. I thought about who would be the villain and who would be my main friend in my adventures. And then I had a scary thought. I had assumed that I was the hero of the story and that everything revolved around me. But what if the hero was really Ben? Who would I be? Or one of my friends? Or someone in another country? Then I would fade into the crowd.

I thought about this and then I realized that the real hero of this story did live in another country. Even in another time. He lived and died a long time ago, but because He is the main character in this story and everything revolves around Him. We still talk about Him and what he did. I had thought earlier about how if one of my friends was the hero, that my standing in the story would all depend on how close I was to him. And really, seeing as we know that Christ is the hero of this story, our whole eternal standing depends on where we stand in relationship to Him. If we stay close to Christ we can be sure we’re on the right path. So in this story, we are still mentioned. We are the ones who are proclaiming His life many years after He walked the streets of Jerusalem. In any other story, this would not make sense. He lived and died so long ago. But there’s a grand difference in this story, the one that makes it so important.

He lives.

christ_in_a_red_robe

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

We live in a society of broken and struggling families, yet most don’t know how to talk to someone who has been through a divorce, abandonment or abuse by a parent and/or estrangement from a family member. While excruciating in their own right, the pain from these experiences is often escalated by well-meaning friends and family.

I shudder to think of things I may have said in the past– I remember hearing of people who couldn’t be in the same room as a family member and judging them harshly. I remember thinking, “Buck up. Grow up.” That was before I spent a year of my life sobbing on the floor in agony.

If you read nothing else, remember this: extend love; refrain from judgment.

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Seven Billion Ways to Be Happy or Don’t Let the Naysayers Silence Your Song

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I am constantly amazed, and consistently delighted, at the many many ways to find happiness in this world: making the basketball team, joining the choir, stitching a quilt, starting a charity, earning an award or an honest dollar…running, inventing, gardening, swimming, hiking, writing or simply just noticing everything and anything good, beautiful, funny.

And yet, in this age of opportunities, where each of us can truly find joy, runs a current of criticism, jealousy, nit-picking and quibbling. The cynics seem to see the world as a pie and any success by someone else, means less for them to eat. But the world isn’t a single pastry, it’s a banquet– lush and full and overflowing, constantly replenished and with new dishes appearing every day. Life offers more than enough love, triumphs and beauty for each of us, no one needs to envy or critique another’s plate.

Each life also holds misery, heartache and disasters– which is all the more reason to tread gently and kindly on this earth.

Words, once published, are like Frankenstein brought to life– they take on actions of their own, free to misinterpretation and abuse.

Recently, the Deseret News introduced new commenting guidelines in an effort to encourage civil dialogue. I found this question and answer especially interesting:

Haven’t you ever heard of freedom of speech? That’s censorship!

Commenting on DeseretNews.com is a privilege, not a right. If you continually abuse that privilege, you may have your account suspended or banned. But we want your comments and added insight, so keep it civil and we can continue a long and meaningful online relationship.

I applaud the efforts of the Deseret News. Intelligent discussion defines a vibrant and educated society, but the ferocity of condemnation, the excoriation of ‘errant’ writers astounds me. It seems no one can write an opinion of any sort without subjecting themselves to name-calling and mockery.

In the first weeks of this year, I read a beautiful article– God will give you more than you can handle: I guarantee it.– but was saddened to see several comments (I didn’t go past the first twenty or so) both questioning and mocking her faith. Wouldn’t their opinions be better served by writing posts or articles of their own? Why tear apart her expressions of faith and understanding?

A friend compared this attitude to Korihor in the Book of Mormon as he mocked the followers of Christ. The high priest asked, “Why do you teach this people that there shall be no Christ to interrupt their rejoicings?” Alma 30:22. In this world of hardship, why would we want to interrupt any rejoicing?

Over and over, I’ve seen this behavior within discussions about… well, every topic imaginable. Just as we know Facebook taunts never change anyone’s opinion, does any attacker believe their cruel words (on either side of the discussion) will lead to understanding?

Perhaps some might say, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the fire.” To some degree, this is true. But if every sensitive writer/singer/artist stopped contributing, we’d lose so many important voices. Each of us, in whatever we choose to pursue, must block out the voices of opposition. My sister loves to remind me, “The angels tell you to be glorious, but the devils tell you, ‘don’t even try.'”

Yes, we need to ignore the belittlers if we want to go forward. But I’d also suggest we’d all benefit– especially those who spend their time critiquing and reviling– by simply pursuing happiness, spreading kindness, looking for ways to help and create and enjoy this beautiful, beautiful life.