Birth of Johannah Rose

After a great hospital birth with my second baby I was ready to try another home birth. I had met a woman at a birth conference a year before that I knew right away I wanted as my midwife if I ever got pregnant again. I was excited to call her and make plans as soon as I knew I was pregnant. Maria delivered at Beautiful Mountain birth suites but also gave the option of coming to your home. I loved having the option left open to me to choose as things progressed.

I knew that my babies like plenty of womb time so even though my 40 week due date was on the 14th of October I wasn’t even going to think about giving birth until the 28th. Maria told me early on that she was going to be out of town the week of my due date and asked if I wanted to consider one of the other midwives being my primary but I told her there wasn’t a chance I would have the baby on time.

About two and a half weeks before my due date my siblings and I got together for a family portrait. It was a long day with a lot of standing around. I started to have a few contractions but I always have a lot of Braxton Hicks during the later part of the pregnancy so I didn’t even hardly notice. Later we went to my sisters for dinner and as I relaxed in her recliner I started to notice that the contractions were pretty regular and getting harder. I got a large glass of water and drained it twice to make sure they weren’t being caused by dehydration. They kept coming. About this time my mom noticed something was up. I was starting to shiver and my breathing was fast. I was shaking and starting to feel the need to cry. Something in the back of my mind started to get excited that maybe this was it and I wasn’t going to have to go to 42 weeks this time after all.

“If I was your midwife I would at least want to know this was happening” my mom told me. I called Maria and had a contraction while I was on the phone with her. She could hear it in my voice and offered to come right away. I told her to wait, let me get home and get in the tub. If this was real things would speed up. If it wasn’t the contractions would ease off or stop all together.

After just a few minutes relaxing in the tub everything had stopped completely. I was a little disappointed and the door had been opened to hope. The next few weeks there were a lot of contractions leading to nothing. It started to get really hard to be pregnant. I spent a lot of time sitting on my ball rolling my hips, breathing and visualizing my ideal birth, visualizing everything opening.

40 weeks came and went and 41 weeks as well.

At my 41 week appointment I was 80% and dilated to a 4. She stripped my membranes (although she said there really wasnt much still attached.) She told me that it wouldn’t take much to push me over the edge and into labor.

We decided to try castor oil. I drank a wicked concoction of almond butter, lemon verbena, castor oil and a few other ingredients. I had to laugh at the insanity of drinking something so nasty to bring on something as difficult as labor all so that I could have a new born baby who was going to keep me up nights for months and would grow into a energy filled two year old racing through my house like a banshee and growing all too fast into a teenager with all the unknown challenges that I had yet to experience with that stage. It made me marvel at the sheer number of humans in this world.

I few hours after taking to caster oil I went for a walk to see if I could get something started. I stopped at a friends house and had a nice little chat. While I was there a storm was brewing and I think that helped get a few contractions going. by the time I got home they were pretty regular and pretty close but also still pretty comfortable. Maria texted to see how things were going and I told her that they were about 4 minutes a part lasting about a minute but not very strong. She decided to go a head and come.

A few minutes before she got there things started to get intense enough that I didn’t want the kids there. I called a friend who came and got them. My sister Johannah was going to be at the birth to take some pictures for me so I called her to just give her a heads up and she decided to just come as well. So the whole team was there. And little by little the contractions petered out until it became clear that nothing was happening.

I was discouraged and wanted to do somethings to get labor going. Maria checked me and suggested that we wait a few days and try and get the baby to turn since it was posterior and then try again. She gave me some instructions on how to turn the baby and everyone went home.

For three days I followed her instructions and I felt the baby move into place. On the third day I was sitting in our family playing with my little when my 3 year old son stood next to me “MOm, when the baby comes out its going to die.” he told me. My heart stopped. How did he even know what death was? Because of an abnormality that they had seen in our ultra sounds we knew that the was a possibility that this baby would have downs syndrome. I knew that it was a little risky doing a home birth if the baby was going to be born with downs but I had felt confident that all would be ok. This statement coming from such a small child frightened me. I went to see Maria that day for my appointment we were planning to do another round of castor oil. I sat in her office and cried like a baby because I just wanted it all over and wanted to know the baby was ok. I told her about what Preston had said. “I think you need to consider just going to the hospital she told me.” Ive had some concern about doing this at home as well and you are obviously at the end of your rope. Im not sure how good it would be to continue to wait.”

I called Dr. Chappell and we set an appointment to see him later that evening to transfer care to his office and to schedule an induction. He had delivered my daughter and had seen me early on in the pregnancy when the morning sickness had been extra bad and he was prepared that this might happen. On the way home I cried. I just really wanted another home birth. I hated that I was giving up. I finally turned around and went back to Maria’s office. “LEts do the castor oil again I told her and if it works great I have the baby today and get my home birth. If it doesn’t than I go to Dr. Chappells tonight and we have the baby tomorrow in the hospital.”

She agreed and I took the castor oil. All day I waited for contractions and nothing. We drove all the way to farmington to meet with Dr. Chappell, he scheduled to induction for the next day and we were on our way home. About have way there I started to have contractions. By the time we were getting to Lehi they were getting kind of intense and I felt like I might just have this baby before I had a chance to get induced. We went to pick up the kids from a friend who was watching them. By the time we pulled into her driveway I was gasping and groaning with the intensity. I thought if I can just hold off long enough to get home and get the kids in bed than I can have this baby.

I called Maria and told her this is the real deal you better come. I was trying to focus and stay calm so the kids wouldn’t worry. I got them tucked into bed, made several urgent trips to the bathroom and with each one the contractions lessened. By the time the kids were settled and Maria was there they had stopped all together. I felt defeated but at peace with the idea of the induction because I felt I had given it absolutely everything I had in me. A home birth just wasn’t in the cards and I had to be ok with that.

The hospital called at 7:30 the next morning and we headed to the hospital. We got checked in and our nurse got things set up. She insisted that I wouldn’t be allowed to eat during labor, she insisted that I must wear the obnoxious monitors, she insisted that the pitocin had to be increased at specific intervals every 30 min. Several times I felt that she dismissed my intuition and knowledge of my body for what her machines were telling her. At one point I asked her to turn up the pitocin. I wanted to get things moving and I wasn’t feeling much of anything yet. Let me check to see how your contractions are first she told me looking at her awful machine. I can tell you how they are I told her. But she didn’t seem interested in my opinion. They are nice and regular she said so there is no need to increase it yet.

A couple of hours later she wanted to check me for progress. I don’t even feel like Im in labor I told her. I’m having a few contractions but they are nothing yet. But true to form she wanted to check anyway. I let her but told her I didn’t want to know how far I was.

She checked and then proceeded to prepare for delivery. If you want anyone else here you better call them she told me. I couldn’t believe it! It seemed like things were progressing but I honestly felt great. I had been lazing around in the tub, chatting (and eating when she wasn’t around) and overall just enjoying a break from the kids. This didn’t feel like the real deal.

Maria had come to the hospital with me and promised to stay through it all. She pulled the nurse aside to find out how far dilated I was. She kept telling me how amazed she was that I was doing so well. I kept insisting that I wasn’t doing anything. It hardly seems fair to take credit for being amazing when you aren’t even trying.

Dr. Chappell arrived, the nurse had called him in for the birth. He came in to find me comfortably seated in the tub chatting away with Joseph, Maria and my mom. Should I check you myself just to be sure he asked. Given that the nurse had made a mistake on my previous birth that had derailed my whole birth it seemed like a great idea. When she checked an hour ago you were at an 8 he told me.

He checked and I knew the news wasn’t good when he really had to reach in far. So you are actually at a 5 he said. I wanted to say I told you so to that awful nurse who insisted that her dumb machines knew more than I did. “Can we turn the pit up then to get this show on the road I asked. HE agreed and before long we had it at full strength.

Dr. Chappell suggested breaking my water and Joseph and I decided we would rather wait and labor for awhile first. He left and we continued with the waiting. About 10 pm I started feeling myself getting closer emotionally. I started to notice myself holding back because I didn’t want to descend to that place where I felt I had no control. I felt like I needed to process some things and I couldn’t with an audience so I asked my mom and sister to take a walk. I talked some thing through with the midwife and just spent some time in quiet contemplation.

Joseph and I did some walking. Shift change at the hospital meant we got a new nurse and it saved me from firing the one we had as I had about reached my limit with her. She kept saying all this stuff that she couldn’t let me do. Looking back I realized that she was saying “SHE couldn’t let me.” meaning I could do it she just couldn’t allow it. I wish I would have just kindly informed her I know you can’t but I can and done what I wanted. But at any rate once she was gone I took the new nurse aside and explained that doing this without pain medication was really important to me and that I couldn’t get in my zone and do it with a nurse in my face and that infernal monitor on my belly. I asked her to please do whatever she could do to help me find a way to have the birth I really wanted.

She told me that since I had a great support team of my own she would just stay out of it and to call if I wanted her. I didn’t see her for the next 4 hours and it was heaven. Anyway back to my processing. After working through some feelings I started to feel this primal urge to hide. I wanted a closed secure cozy place to have this baby and I needed to find a position I felt comfortable enough to lose control in. I was having a hard time finding it. Maria intuitvely knew I needed privacy and she left for a nap in another room. Joseph and I talked and hugged and prepared for what was coming. Finally I found my safe place laying on my side in the bed with him holding my hand and rubbing my back.

About this time it was 12:30 just after midnight. I told him to get the doc I was ready for them to break my water. They brought in the on call doc to do it and called Dr. Chappell to give him a heads up. She broke my water and the first contraction afterward had me making gutterall birthing noises. My sister heard me from the hallway and thought it was the baby. I quickly got to my knees and leaned over the back of the bed (It was all the way up) Maria heard me yelling from the other room and she came to do counter pressure on my hips. After what seemed to me to be about 5 minutes but was really about 30 I started asking for an epidural.

Joseph suggested ( like I had asked) that we turn the pit down instead. WE turned it down and I tried a few more contractions. Soon I was begging again. So we turned it down again. At this point I wish I had had Joseph up by my head. He and MAria were doing counter pressure on my hips but looking back I think I needed him closer to my face. Finally I was quite sure I couldn’t take another contraction. give me something else than I begged, remembering at this point that this was what I wanted, if I truly needed something I wanted to try something else before an epidural. I don’t know what was happening but it seemed like no one was responding to my request.

I was starting to feel the urge to push and I was afraid that I couldn’t get through this part. I was scared. Looking back I wish I would have voiced that I was afraid of what came next instead of just thinking it. By voicing it, it allows me to process and allows others to more fully support me. By just thinking it it was causing me to lose focus on what I should have been doing which was relaxing through the contractions.

Joseph came right up to my face and held me in his arms, you can do this. He told me you are almost there. Do you want to try? His tenderness, and the earnestness in his voice was almost enough to give me the strength to do it and had he stayed with me a little longer I probably could have but as another contraction hit he faded away and I felt lost as it washed over me.

I started to feel like I was pooping the biggest poop of my life. I was pushing and I couldn’t help it. Looking back here I also wish I had told someone, requested a mirror and got in a position where I could have my hand down there. I think it would have helped me engage in the process better instead of allowing it to happen to me.

My head was in the mattress and a sheet was over me and I don’t think anyone realized I was pushing. I begged again for the epidural, this time directing my request specifically to Dr. Chappell. He got the guy in there to give it to me in less than three minutes. I kept begging them to hurry knowing that I was going to push this baby out any second and not wanting to do it.

I was laying on my back they had me all scrubbed up and were instructing me to hold perfectly still so that he could insert the needle. When Maria suddenly said, “She is pushing!” They pulled off the sheet and sure enough the head was right there half way out. I pushed a couple of times and shouted “it burns” just like almost every woman I’ve ever seen give birth and then I felt the head come out and the shoulders turn inside of me. I could feel the shoulder bones slip out with the next push and then that gush as the rest of the body slipped effortlessly out and I heard Dr. Chappell say “Its a girl!”

At that point the pain in the birth canal was as intense as the contractions had been. I remember hearing the nurse instructing me that the baby was on my chest I needed to hold her and rub her dry. But I felt frozen in place and in agonizing pain. I kept screaming, It hurts so much! Finally they took the baby away and cleaned her up, weighed her a did what they do. I guess they let Joseph cut the cord but I don’t really remember. I just couldn’t figure out why the pain wasnt stopping.

After awhile they brought the baby back and tried again to get me to hold her. This time i made more of an effort and with her in my arms the pain seemed to lessen and my focus was on her perfect little face.

I never did find out why I had that kind of pain. Its something I want to understand before I have another baby. But I do want another one and can’t wait for this whole crazy experience all over again.

We hadn’t picked out a name yet, but Johannah was in the running as that was my sisters name who had been there and it was also the name of a very special family friend. It seemed like the right fight for our chubby little 8lb 13 oz bundle of joy.

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What gift will He have for you?

It was possibly the hardest day of my life up to this point. I sat in the Celestial room of the temple pouring my heart out to God. (For those of you who may not know what this is or have never been there let me give a brief description. A temple is house that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints build for GOd. We believe that it is literally a home for him on earth. Because of this and because we believe that not only does he reside there but it is in this place that he provides a way for us to bless the lives of many others it is made as perfectly and as beautifully as we can make it. The Celestial room is the most special place in the whole temple and is a place that represents the ultimate heaven for us. ) This room, this special place inside a house dedicated to God usually brought such peace but this day I couldn’t seem to stop the tears.

I sat in the furthest corner I could find my head down my face shielded by my hair falling over my shoulders and I sobbed. My head was pounding from the intensity of the emotion, my hands were full of tissues all but dissolved from the abundance of tears. I felt HIs presence there, I felt peace in the room but my heart ached so much I had a hard time allowing it to penetrate. When I felt that I had my tears a little under control I moved to a couch nearer the center of the room. I looked up into the gleaming chandelier above me that seemed to reach down from heaven almost touching the huge bouquet of flowers of the earth sitting on the table below. I felt my Fathers presence and I knew my tears mattered to him. I spoke to him silently. Father, I know you are here, I know you love me, I feel your spiritual hug, but today I just need physical arms, I need flesh and bones, I need a hug!

Celestial-Room-Mexico-City-Mexico-Temple-752x440I lowered my head, looking at the ball of tissues in my hand, I took a deep breathe determined to pull myself together. A pair of white slippers walked into view, a white dress floating above slender white ankles. They stopped in front of me. I looked up into the eyes of a girl I barely knew.  She had been in my ward but had left a couple weeks earlier to serve a mission. She smiled at me. “I thought I knew you” she said.

“I thought you were on your mission?” I asked.

“I am but I am still at the Missionary training center across the street and today is our temple day. Its so nice to see a familiar face” she said as she sat down next to me. “How are you doing?”

Her question was sincere. My answer was not. “I’m ok.” I said not very convincingly.

“Can I give you a hug?”She asked.

The tears rushed forth again as I saw the Lord fulfill my request within a matter of seconds. I hugged her probably harder and longer than she was expecting. I’ll never know if she knew that she had been the Lords arms for me that day. I’ve never seen her since then but she taught me something very important.

The Lord has no limits. He loves us deeply, he counts every tear we cry and when he can’t physically put arms around us he sends others to do the job. When he can’t physically feed us he sends others with food. And when he can’t literally teach us he sends others with a message for us.

This weekend is General Conference. It is a time when LDS church leaders who have been praying for months about what message the Father would have them relay to us will speak to us of the impressions and answers they feel are the most urgent for us to hear. What will they say? What questions do you have? What will you hear?

I promise you that if you have a question or a request such as I had that day in the Celestial room. The Lord will respond to you this weekend during conference. Ask, wait, listen, and you will hear his answer. Whoever you are, where ever you sit He is there he is listening to you and he will answer you.

For me as I drag my heavily pregnant body through the day I will be listening for a message of encouragement for moms who are struggling to find meaning and purpose in the day to day struggle of raising toddlers. I will be listening for messages of how to navigate the struggles that come with marriage, I will be listening for advice on how to find balance in my life and peace in my heart. I will be trying to draw more strength from Him and less from the world around me. 21752026_1968995749988057_3585119812092829969_n

What are your questions? If you care to share leave me some comments. We can listen together!

I Am Not White: A perspective on racism

I’ve learned a lot about racism in the last 4 years. In Uganda they have a name for white people. Musungu. As you walk down the streets people will call out “Musungu” especially children. At first I liked it. It was like having a name and everyone knew me. It made me feel at home. Then I started to see it differently; I heard things like

“You can’t do laundry well you are Musungu”

“Give me money Musungu you have much.”

“Your wife is a Musungu she can’t cook”

“Musungu can’t dig”

Musungu don’t want to have children, they don’t dress modestly…the list went on. I felt that no one saw me. They just saw the color of my skin. Their idea of who I was as a “Musungu” had been shaped by hollywood. The stereo type I was placed in by my skin color alone was based on what the media had shown them.

I AM NOT WHITE

My skin is white I am not. I am Mormon, I am a Mother, I am a wife, I am happy. Those are choices I have made they are the things I have made an effort to become. They tell you something about me. White is just the color my skin happens to be.

By the way…my eyes are blue. Just in case that matters.

If minorities are poorer, have fewer opportunities or are stereo typed I believe that these are not problems of race they are problems of community, of choices, of habit and even of dreams.

When I told my family that I was marrying Joseph they had ideas in their mind about what that meant. They pictured a stereo type of a black man in America. It took less than a day before they had recategorized him based on his actions, and choices which were apparent in his appearance and demeanor.

I don’t believe that our police officers in general are out to get black people. I think they are put in a position because of their jobs where they are required to make snap judgements about people. Their judgements can mean life and death for themselves and those around them.

If you want respect be Respect -able.

 

Joseph and I have talked a lot in the last few days about this and he says,

“I am not sure why people are surprised by racism, Racism is a tool that has been used by political kings and masters to divide and rule communities and nations. It has existed as long as the human family. It’s human nature to notice differences in another person and one of those differences is skin color.

All of us have labels and one of them right now being pointed out is skin color. But there is one label that is crucial that we put on everyday, that is appearance. People will argue or say don’t judge me by how I look but the truth is before you say anything to any person, your outward appearance says a lot about you. The way you dress, the language you choose to use etc.

This is how I feel about the situation in Minnesota. We don’t have all the facts of what happened that evening at 9pm. We can only formulate speculations and frame stories of that incident. I am black and very grateful that I am housed into this skin color and so at first I imagined myself in the situation, picturing me with my beautiful family getting shot for some reason. I allowed myself to fear. But then I have tried to analyze the story, both from the view of that policeman and the gentleman who got shot.

Once again with no full facts and details of what really happened we can only speculate and frame the incident from our perspective. I suspect the media wants to frame it as racism so that they can emotionally appeal to most of the people. We can fear, we can let it divide us into camps of black lives or all lives, we can go forth with racial flames. Or we can come together for all the Americans who were killed in this tragic incidence. We can do our best to find justice and we can mourn with all the families that were involved in this tragedy, for any life taken is irreplaceable. May the almighty who is the creator of black skin and white, the giver and author of both life and justice intervene to help us comfort all involved.

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A Plea for Help

Poverty is a difficult thing. The more I learn about it the more complex it is. My eyes have been opened in the last three or so years in a way that I never could have imagined. We judge poverty by our own experiences. If someone doesn’t have running water or indoor plumbing we consider that a hardship because we have it and couldn’t imagine doing with out. My husband grew up without it and sees it as a superflous thing that doesn’t mean much to him. He sees what Americans have given up in order to have such modern conveniences and to him it’s not necessarily a win.

Sometimes as Americans we are a bit smug even in our desires to help. People don’t need rescuing, they don’t need someone to push for them to have the same modern convenices that we consider essential. Most of the time they just need an opportunity.

When I was in Uganda, my budget was kind of tight. I had used everything I had to pay my way there and to pay for my expenses during the 5 months that I lived there. Yet I was surrounded on every side by people who had less than me. How could I not help?

On the other hand, how could I help? Every day I encountered handicapped people whose needs far exceeded anything that I could give to make a difference, I encountered children who lived on the streets and had no home to go to. I encountered single moms struggling and often failing to care for their children. I saw people who were sick, suffering and the need was overwhelming. I helped where I could and I consoled myself with the fact that I was there making a difference. I was volunteering for a non-profit that helps single moms become self sufficient. Musana was making a difference and I could feel good about how I was spending my time and the little money I had. IMG_1613

Then one day I was walking the streets of Kampala making arrangements for the new street sign we were putting up at Musana. A woman approached me, obviously hungry, she had a small child strapped to her back and she was clutching her obviously empty breasts and pleading for help. She didn’t speak english but her message was clear. She had nothing to feed her baby. The baby looked at me with large open eyes from his mothers back. I shrugged my shoulders indicating that I had nothing for her and moved on. It felt heartless but what could I do? I couldn’t help everyone.

Since then I have had my own children. I have sat in a cozy gliding rocker in a decorated nursery and nursed my babies. During those times that I have not had enough milk I have gone to the kitchen and quickly made a bottle to satisfy my chubby sweet baby. I have come home from church after several hours of not being able to eat and made myself something to eat to help with that cold empty shaking feeling in my stomach that nursing a hungry baby leaves if you don’t eat enough.

Every day since my son was born that woman has been in my mind and heart. I have wept tears over the help I didn’t offer. Needless to say I would do things differently if I could go back. Still I would be faced with the same dilemma of too much need for my capabilities to help; but this woman, this one woman, I could have helped to feed her child. She came to me I could have done something.

A friend of mine is preparing for her own humanitarian trip to Uganda in May. She s raising $25,000 to build an orphanage while she is there. She is asking that we and anyone who is willing participate in “7 days of nothing” now I cringe a little at the title because having seen people who have nothing and it hardly compares. But the idea is to do without something for 7 days and donate your savings to the cause. Perhaps you can eat simply for 7 days. Nothing but beans, rice and oatmeal (typical food for many  families all over the world) Perhaps you can forgo using your running water and carry whatever water you need from an outdoor faucet, to get a feel for the way the majority of the world lives. Maybe try walking or riding your bike to work or the grocery store if you can.581766_10151416836355658_826602642_n

And if that is too much for you maybe you can skip your daily latte, or a trip to the salon. or go on a sugar fast for a week. Save what you can and send it to my friend to help build an orphanage. For Joseph and I we have washed our own clothes by hand, carried our water, walked wherever we need to go, done without many things and we know how to do it. We will be joining my friend in her 7 days of nothing and perhaps that woman and her sickly child will not haunt me so much. For you I pray that you will find something that works for you someway that you can give and I think you will find that the bigger your sacrifice the more impact it will have on your life.

But what about the children?

How would you respond to a mother in this scenario: A woman marries a man in the temple, time passes, they have children, raising them in the church. One day the husband tells her he is gay, that he has always known it but tried to do the right thing and married a woman in the temple. He cannot go on in the marriage and they divorce. The couple share custody of their children who they continue to raise in the church. After time the ex husband finds a partner and they live together. Children still go to church every Sunday, they have family home evening every week, pray every morning and night, sing primary songs together on car trips and attend baptisms of all their friends, anxiously waiting for their special day to be baptized. Then this policy is made public. How do you respond to this mother and how does she explain to her children (at next Saturday’s baptism service of their good friend) that they can’t be baptized? How do the children explain to their friends why they aren’t going to be baptized?

This is one of many responses to my recent blogpost about the change in church policy. As I attempted to respond to her I realized that my response needed to be more than what I wanted to put in a comment. So here is a bit more about this policy change. I realize that to those who are asking questions like this to try to poke holes and condemn the church for the policy change will still have plenty to say. There is nothing that could be said that would help that. However, for those who ask genuinely out of concern for those difficult cases such as the one above I hope what I have to say can help.

First we have to look at the root of this problem. The problem is not that a child can’t be baptized until 18. the problem is that these children can’t and others can. And I can see why this would be a concern.

My family doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Growing up there was no Santa, no tree, no presents etc. Most of the time I didn’t really notice or care. When I was about 9 years old I started taking piano lessons and every year around christmas time we would go to group lessons and recitals and people would ask us what we got for Christmas. I was embarrassed to say nothing so my siblings and I would look at the catalogs find some things that we wanted and tell everyone thats what we got. This was just one of MANY ways that I knew I was different from all the other children around me. Honestly, it didn’t hurt me. I got a little envious sometimes and occasionally I felt embarrassed but over all it wasn’t something I considered a hardship.

It could have been different though. If I had a parent or two, or grandparents who felt like this was a major issues and a hardship for me I imagine I might have felt the same way.

Mother and Daughter Talking

Mother and Daughter Talking

I stand by my original position that there are very good reasons for this policy change. How ever there are many that will face some challenges because of it. So to literally answer this woman’s questions: If I found myself in that situation I would tell my children that their situation is unique and that the Lord has asked them to wait a little extra time to be baptized and then we would continue to go to church, attend primary, young men, young women, etc. the same as before. And when times are hard and they feel the difference, because they will; when their friends are getting baptized, receiving the priesthood, passing the sacrament etc. I would tell them stories of others who have faced difficult times in a similar way. I would tell them about the faithful black saints who attended church for years, some of them peeking in a window when they weren’t even allowed inside. They didn’t know when this would change but still they held on faithfully until it did. I would use it as a chance to teach a very important lesson that todays society in general needs to know. That life isn’t fair, was never meant to be “fair” and that we never had a promise that it would be. I would also teach them that those that face difficult situations with grace and dignity are the ones who we look up to and respect. When they ask “but why me?” which they probably will. I will tell them that the Lord had confidence that they could handle it. Just like he knew that Anne Frank could handle her challenges, that the stripling warriors could handle losing their fathers, that Joseph and Emma could handle losing so many of their children. Many people faced challenges that others around them did not and could have asked why me. And maybe they even did, but the point is you use faith and courage and face those challenges and you come out on top.

If they were old enough to understand, I might explain how important it is that the church keeps a clear line on where it stands on certain issues and that this policy really changes very little for them in terms of how they can participate in church, and how they will be perceived. And if that is the price that they are asked to pay to draw a clear line. Its not such a big one.

I’ve been asked to make similar sacrifices for similar reasons and I can tell you its not so hard. Our attitude is everything! We can make or break this experience for our children. Lets use it as an opportunity for them to show what they are made of!

Discrimination Against Children From Same Sex Marriages? What Is The Church Thinking?

imagesActually I don’t like to say what someone else was thinking since clearly I couldn’t possibly know. And since I haven’t personally spoken with the twelve or the first presidency about this I honestly couldn’t say. But I can tell you that this ISN”T uncharacteristic of the church. This isn’t NEW or even DIFFERENT from what people should expect. (all things that I have seen a lot on Facebook lately) Let me tell you why. Most people may not be aware but the EXACT same limitations have been in place regarding children from polygamist families for many years. Now having come through that process myself I can say that these guidelines are in place for a good reason.

To begin with, let’s make a few assumptions. Lets assume that the teachings of the church are true and as part of that lets assume that same-sex marriage is contrary to God’s laws. ( I guarantee you this was part of the thinking for the 15 men who made this decision) Let’s also assume that another teaching of the church that the spirit can not reside in the presence of sin is also true.

Now lets imagine that these guidelines were not in place. Imagine that you are a say fifteen year old living in a same-sex family. The missionaries come and teach you that your family is living in sin. The very foundation of your home is an abomination to God. As a fifteen year old that’s a lot to handle. So imagine that you actually believe the missionaries and decide that you want to be baptised. That puts a strain in your family that no fifteen year old should ever have to deal with. Your church, your religious beliefs are saying one thing, your family another and you are caught in the middle without the option of leaving home. Now I realize that  conversion to the LDS church or really any church for that matter would put many people in the same position. The key here though is that this is a pretty MAJOR part of your life. And you shouldn’t be put in that kind of position until you are truly old enough to deal with the consequences. I think 18 is the earliest something like this could be handled. Legally its the earliest that you could make the choice to live a different lifestyle.

Imagine you have just been given the gift of the Holy Ghost but your ability to enjoy that gift is hampered by the fact that you are constantly surrounded day and night by “sin” Imagine your religion tells you to honor and obey your parents and in the same breath tells you your parents are living in sin.

On the other hand imagine you are a member of a same-sex couple. Your child (who is not yet even 18) is being approached by missionaries who are teaching them that you are living in sin, that your lifestyle is offensive to God. I can tell you that I would FREAK OUT on those missionaries. I may even file a law suit. Either way they have NO right coming into my home and teaching MY children those kinds of things.

Looking at it from that perspective I would say that the LDS church’s position on this issue. Is not only typical of the church, it is brilliant, it is kind, and it is absolutely the right decision. If a person from such a family wants to join the church once they are legally an adult, ready to live on their own and take on the consequences of their actions then the church can give them a green light. Before then its NO for a very good set of reasons. I also love that the church gives any person who was a child in these or similar circumstances a chance to meet with a member of the 12 before baptism. They need a little something extra, they need the personal touch of that meeting, they need a chance to have their questions answered and their hearts touched by the men we sustain as prophets, seers and revelators. I love that the church offers this kind, loving, supportive set of guidelines. And I am glad they were in place for me.

The Worth of A Man

A friend of mine recently posted this interesting question or rather essay full of questions on Facebook. Having had many of the same questions myself in recent years and having so much to say on the topic I decided to answer her in a blog post. First here is her question:

I have a genuine and soul-searching question…. I’d love your insights, men. I need help appreciating you more..

I just read an interesting article about the rising trend of single motherhood. Among women under 30, the majority of babies born are now born out of wedlock. One of the reasons cited was interesting and bothersome to me… “Men are not as valuable as they used to be.”

.Over the last 30 years, men’s wages have dropped by 8%, while women’s wages have increased by 8%. The stigma of being a single mom has mostly disappeared, and with adoption / technology of artificial insemination, you can totally have kids without a partner.

.Here’s where it hits home and hurts me… If I’m being honest with myself, I’m increasingly discouraged and disenchanted with men. There is a reverence for self that I find often in women but rarely in men. And the last 7 years of seriously dating, pouring my heart and soul into awesome relationships where the guy just walks away anyways… It’s left me feeling like I can’t rely on men for much, and don’t NEED to rely on them for anything.

.I still harbor a strong desire for dedicated male companionship. But even if it exists, I feel like it’s so rare, that low likelihood of finding the belonging place I’m looking for, combined with a high likelihood of being betrayed or abandoned makes it not worth it to look anymore. It’s awfully tempting to joint-adopt with a best friend and share the efforts of child-rearing with someone I feel I can rely on. I’d prefer being the breadwinner anyways.

Our society is cruel to men… Exceedingly cruel. My roommate pointed out that men seem to be hurt enough by the man-hate that it makes them want to disengage. I see this pain too.

SO, help me understand.

What beauty should we be seeing? What unique gifts and contributions do men offer in a relationship, that makes it worth fighting for you?

.What would rejuvenate your courage, make you feel like a knight in shining armor again? What would inspire you to literally rush into battle, willing to give your life to protect a women, as eons of men used to do? What IS the modern equivalent? What makes you feel proud of yourself on that level?

What do you need, and how can we help?

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This is Joseph and Vilate responding together. Your topic brought up some great questions. For me having been in the same boat as you until I was into my 30’s I relate. Now, having been married for a few years I also have a new perspective on this. And Joseph has the experience you were requesting from a man’s perspective. So here is what we have to say.

First and foremost, marriage, although it can be incredibly difficult, requires self-sacrifice and even a good deal of risk, also has just as much potential for incredible joy, success and enumerable wonderful things. It is GOD”S plan. The way that HE decided was best. He knew that men would be challenging, he knew about video games and pornography and he still felt that this is THE BEST way.Yes, you can have children without having a man involved. However, there is great value in KNOWING and LOVING the father of your children. First, you know his character, his genes, his likes and dislikes. When you have a child with someone you look at them and you see a reflection of your partner in them and it brings so much happiness that it is beyond description. As I am writing this Joseph is dancing with our baby daughter to keep her happy while I write and unless you know and love them both like I do you wouldn’t know how perfect this moment is and how it makes up for the difficult parts of marriage and family. Men’s way of communicating is different from women and children need both. I see the way that Preston reacts to Joseph and it’s very different from the way he interacts with me. And its clear to me that he needs Joseph. Even in the first few months when Joseph wasn’t here I could see the change in him when Joseph arrived. It’s hard to explain these things to someone who hasn’t experienced it. Do you love your dad? You probably love your mom too. But could you imagine only having your mom? I couldn’t imagine my life without my dad. And because of that I would never NEVER consider having a child and making them grow up without a father.

Besides children needing them, they need us? When God said it is not good for man to be alone he meant it. Just look at any 30+ single man. It’s not good. They need us. And even if we don”t biologically or financially need them We still need them.

This is from Joseph answering this question:What would rejuvenate your courage, make you feel like a knight in shining armor again? What would inspire you to literally rush into battle, willing to give your life to protect a women, as eons of men used to do? What IS the modern equivalent? What makes you feel proud of yourself on that level? (I want you to know that he got teary trying to answer this question and he gave me the answer in less than a second.)

It’s love.

We heard a man bear his testimony about almost dying today and how the only thing on his mind was his wife and daughters and how much he loved them, and how much they loved him. When you feel the love that comes from the person next to you, you just feel empowered to bursting. It’s just like when I come home from work and Preston runs to me and calls me daddy, in that moment I would die, I would do anything for that person. It’s the same with my wife, when I feel that love and see that face I would do anything. When I watched you give birth, seeing everything you went through, I would have done anything to help and just feeling the love filled me up. There just isn’t any words to describe it.

So, (this is Vilate again) I’m sorry this has been long I’m sorry it hasn’t been more specific. ( If you haven’t read it already read the proper care and feeding of husbands by Dr.Laura) From having been in your shoes I understand that you want concrete, usable answers. I know that these answers aren’t that. But I think there is no easy answer. and I would just say one more thing. Marriage is hard, just like raising kids is hard. They are both much harder than I had ever imagined. But they are also FAR more wonderful than I ever imagined.

I think Joseph is right. Whenever things in my marriage have been difficult and I have prayed for answers on how to deal with him I always get one answer regardless of the problem. Love Him.

So, If I could go back and tell myself a few things on this topic I would say this. Don’t marry just to marry, don’t feel as if your life only holds meaning in marrying and having children, don’t waste a moment of your singlehood, don’t devalue yourself by allowing a guy to string you a long and play games with your heart, don’t settle for less when it comes to the kind of man that you want and deserve. If you are a strong powerful, hardworking, righteous woman, wait for a man who is your equal and then when you find him hold nothing back and move forward with faith. And if you don’t find him spend your life finding and living your mission because YOU have one and it is important.

So, lastly, has the value of men declined? No, do we not see/expect as much from them? Do they as a result not see/expect as much of themselves? Are women partially responsible for creating the selfish, video gaming, pornography watching, unambitious guys that we see today? Can we be a huge part of the answer to bringing back that knight in shining armor that my friend spoke of? I would say yes and if that is the case than I still believe that Joseph was right and the answer is LOVE. We need to love them enough to expect more of our men, love them enough to see their undeniable worth and rejoice in it when we find it. I believe our men will rise to the occasion.

The most important men in my life.

The most important men in my life.