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.

Let your light so shine or do your alms in secret?

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I’m looking for a vibrant group discussion today. I hope you’ll contribute your thoughts.

Lately I’ve been ruminating on and talking to my friends and family about Elder Bednar’s message to “sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth.” His message is full of excellent guidelines, but putting his words into actions seems to be creating a lot of confusion. I’ve interviewed some very savvy young people to initiate our discussion.

Let’s start with my 22 year old son Ben, a student and Italian 101 teacher at BYU:

“I had to go to a training for my stake’s digital mission today. The idea is to improve the church’s presence on social media in size and quality. Some of it seems pretty cool, like creating blogs, but other actions seems pointless: liking church stuff and trolling for comments that mention missionaries. I’m still kind of at odds with social media. I’m totally fine with other people using it and I’m actually kind of interested in what some people post, but a lot of the time it seems superficial and fake and even damaging. Think about the way it’s changing our definition of social? How is working for “likes” changing the way we express ourselves? I’m still trying to understand how the church is so on board with all this stuff. Being encouraged, at a church meeting, to “live your life openly on social media” (that’s a real quote) just seems kind of funny. Live your life on social media? How about live your life in the real world? I’m still processing it all. Continue reading

at your own pace

When my ten-year-old Mary, made the goal to climb Mt. Timpanogus this summer– a trek of 15-18 miles– I promised I’d stay with her every step of the way.

On practice hikes with her brothers, I’d noticed Mary hiked slowly but steadily until she was rushed. When someone insisted she walk a little faster or denied her a rest, she froze, became insecure in her abilities and more than once, turned around and went home before reaching the top. Continue reading

Confidence and courage and all good things

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Recently, I talked with a friend about her 19 year old daughter Kate who just departed on a mission to Mesa, AZ.  I know Kate well. When it was time for girls’ camp everyone wanted Kate in her tent, every newly called Mia Maid or Laurel’s president wanted Kate as her counselor, when Kate sat down each chair around her filled in moments. With her easy laugh, fresh faced beauty and complete lack of pretensions, Kate brought a flood of light when she entered a room.

“From the time she was a toddler,” her mother told me, “Kate’s possessed an amazing self-confidence. Because Kate knows she’s a daughter of God, she recognizes everyone else as a child of God. She never worries about herself, Kate always thinks about other people.” Continue reading

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?