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When Your Kids “Stray”

By Lisa Meadows Garfield

I joined the LDS Church as a teenager and was utterly jubilant to find a church home that deepened my Christian faith walk in ways I’d only longed for till then. I come from a long line of deeply religious Southern folk; I was born with Jesus in my blood. But as I grew and tried to make sense of Protestant doctrine, I just couldn’t reconcile the Bigness of God I felt inside me with my (admittedly juvenile) perception of the weak, nonsensical faith structure of my pewmates. So when I encountered the rich depths of Mormon doctrine, it was welcome nourishment to my starving soul. As an instinctive truth-seeker, I felt I had found that pearl of great price I sought. That was decades ago, and I have never had cause to regret my choice, even when the quirks and mistakes of my chosen church upset me. I still experience the doctrines of the Restoration with gut-confirming surety. And the further along the path I get, the richer and wider the vista, the more real and clear the promises.

I have always been grateful that I joined the Church early enough in life to allow me to go to BYU, marry in the temple and raise my children in the Church. I cannot tell you how deeply pleased I was to be able to teach my children not only to look to Jesus (many do that) but to be able to give them many more pieces of the Divine Puzzle, to explain the Plan in much richer detail and confidence. It never once occurred to me that they might not recognize the gospel and the Church (which I always understood as separate things, both “true”) as a pearl worth giving all you had to obtain. I never imagined that someone might not want it. My innate desire for truth, my love for Jesus and my gratitude for the Church were not hard-won; they were so obvious to me that I could not imagine a different perspective.

Well, guess what? It is not obvious nor innate for everyone. Not even your own children.

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ARE MEN UNKIND?

By Lisa Meadows Garfield

At the adult session of Stake Conference last weekend, our Stake President suddenly and forcefully said, “Now brethren, I need to speak to you right now. This may sound harsh, but you need to hear this. I am hearing from too many of our faithful sisters about the way they are being treated by their …

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Foster Parenting In a Word

By Sandra Clark

“Hello. This is Sofia from County Foster Care. I’m calling about a baby boy.”

My phone goes off with the recorded blast message whenever there’s a new child needing a home. An eighteen month old girl with visits twice a week. A seven year old boy with no visits at the present time. A sibling set of four, ages ten, seven, six and four months, all girls. Sometimes I get as many calls in a week. Sometimes over a month. It varies.

There are direct calls too. After hours, as I’m getting my own kids to bed or occasionally at 2:00 AM. “Sandra, there’s a baby here in the offices with a worker, could you take him?” In the background I can hear him: frantic, guttural newborn yelps making it hard to concentrate. “He’s hungry, and he’s never taken a bottle before.” Something sinks, while something else rises inside of me; I can’t articulate either. I can only feel it.

“Okay, I can be there in twenty to thirty minutes,” I resolve, committing myself to the unknown.

I’ve done it four times now. (And written about it here and here.) Plus pinch-hitting for a few other foster parents as needed. I wanted to say that by this point, almost a year in, it would be comfortable and I’d feel experienced and capable. I waited for that feeling to come, that my feelings wouldn’t be so unfamiliar, so unable to be articulated. It hasn’t happened. There are too many.

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Doubt and Faith

By Lisa Meadows Garfield

I had a hard conversation with my adult son the other day. He has chosen to stop participating in church, as he feels betrayed and manipulated by our church leaders. He no longer trusts the spiritual experiences he has had because he no longer trusts the context in which they occurred. He doesn’t believe the church is true. He doesn’t trust our leaders. He doesn’t want his young children to go to church, but wants them to be able to “decide for themselves” later in life without “brainwashing” at a young age.

It breaks my heart.

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Big Ward/Little Ward: bloom where you are planted

By Michelle Lehnardt

 

My sister and I have ongoing conversations about big ward/little ward, in-Utah/outside-of-Utah church experiences. You’ve probably held similar conversations with friends and family.

Our conclusion? There are pluses and minuses everywhere.

My sister lives in San Diego in what they think is a large ward, but it’s small enough that all the Young Women meet in one class and everyone takes turns serving in time-consuming callings. Ward members treat each other like family and gather for every holiday and birthday.

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THE MYTHS OF SMALL FAMILIES

By Sandra Clark

This post is in conjunction to Shelah’s post, The Myths of Big Families.   I grew up in a family with five kids. Large by non-LDS standards, but still medium sized to those in the church. Since my mom comes from nine and my father from six, and I had several aunts and uncles that …

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Patriarchal Blessing

By Melissa McQuarrie

In a couple of weeks my youngest daughter will receive her patriarchal blessing. She’s only thirteen, but for six months now she has been pestering me and my husband about getting her blessing. At first I brushed her off, thinking she wouldn’t be able to understand the blessing’s significance at such a young age, and told her it would be best if she waited until she was a little older. But she persisted. To her credit, for the past several months she has researched patriarchal blessings on her own, read talks and articles, asked me and my husband questions, fasted, pondered, and prayed. Her desire for her blessing has never waned, nor has her insistence that she is ready.

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“Is Not This the Fast that I Have Chosen?”

By Melissa McQuarrie

Like most of you, I’m guessing, I haven’t always understood or relished the law of the fast. On Fast Sundays as a young girl I hated that hollow, gnawing feeling in my stomach and I passed the time in Sunday school fantasizing about my favorite treats—custard tarts, vanilla slices, lamingtons—always resolving to buy two of each at school the next day. After church, while waiting in the car for my parents to finish talking and drive us home, I’d lie on the backseat, moaning, my fingers pressed against my protruding ribs, absolutely certain that once we got home I’d be too weak to walk into the house and I would be left to starve to death in the car. One Fast Sunday I found my brother, Todd, outside in the backyard, standing underneath our mulberry tree, his lips stained with berry juice. Mulberries aren’t particularly tasty, but they are a food source for starving children, as Todd—who was normally a fruit hater—discovered, and soon we were all asking to go outside and play on Fast Sundays.

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Coming Clean

By Melissa McQuarrie

Over the years I’ve watched my husband try a myriad of diets: the Beach diet, the Fat-Flush diet, low-carb/high-fat diets, low-fat/low-carb diets, a raw vegetarian diet that gave him bad breath for weeks (all that garlic, all those weird spices–ughh), even the infamous lemonade diet (lemon juice mixed with maple syrup and cayenne pepper, consumed for as many days as one can stand—in my husband’s case, it was eleven). I should explain that my husband eats normally most of the time; he also works out daily and is in great shape. But he inherited a slow metabolism from his father, who was obese much of his adult life, so every once in awhile—maybe once every six months or so—my husband tries out the latest diet in order to drop a few pounds. I, on the other hand, was born with a fast metabolism and, until the last five years or so, have never had to watch what I eat (apparently the fast metabolism gene expires at age forty-five). In fact, as a teenager I was so painfully, self-consciously thin that I did everything I could, including drinking protein drinks, to put on weight, to no avail (Cry me a river, I hear you say—I know, I know, but really, I hated it). And don’t get me started on my pre-mission physical, when I had to convince the BYU Health Center doctor that I wasn’t, in fact, anorexic, just abnormally thin, and that the stress of finals week had made me even thinner than I normally was. But I digress.

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Sunrise, Sunset or Where Did the Summer Go?

By Melissa McQuarrie

This morning my children will don their new school clothes and, toting new backpacks stuffed with sharpened pencils and blank notebooks, they’ll head out the door for the first day of school. And, just like that, summer vacation will be over. Like me, you may be wondering where the summer went. I always start summer vacation with lots of plans: this summer I had a tall stack of books I intended to read during lazy afternoons by the pool while my daughter swam with friends, and I planned on catching up on some scrapbooking—an easy project to work on while kids hang out at home, right?—and I wanted to have relaxed evenings at home, playing card games and watching movies and roasting marshmallows and star gazing and reading books in bed while listening to crickets chirp outside. I read exactly one book (although it was a good one—if you haven’t read To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis, I highly recommend it); I made it as far as printing and cropping some of my photos (one of these days I really will switch to digital scrapbooking); and my husband and I spent most evenings chauffeuring our twelve-year-old and fifteen-year-old to various friends’ houses or hosting numerous teen gatherings. We also spent a lot of time this summer organizing/attending/supervising various youth activities in our ward, since my husband and I both serve in the YM/YW organizations. Somehow June drifted into July and July blurred into August and now summer’s over.

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