Crying for my Mother

The words ring empty, empty, empty,
In the hollow chambers of my soul.
We have a Mother there.
But where?

My body shakes, the tears come fast.
To know the Father is life eternal.
But the Mother: nameless, faceless, and voiceless
Is too sacred, too protected for her daughters to know.

“You just don’t understand”
The answer comes fast,
With a pat on the head by a well-meaning hand.
You’re right. I don’t understand.

I don’t understand a Father
Who forbids a Mother to run to my aid,
Who keeps her in some hidden chamber,
And withholds her very name.

So I wrestle and plead and cry and hunger
For some answer, some balm to soothe
The aching, the longing, the gaping hole
The hole in my soul.

Oh, Mother, where art thou?
And where is the pavilion that covers the place where you hide?
I stand at the door and knock. 
But this veil is like looking through a glass, so dark, so dark.

I sought for you in divine words, scouring the pages,
And couldn’t find your name.
I sought for you in holy places, surely you would be there.
And in those lovely, quiet corridors I was empty and alone.

I am hurt and alone and weak,
Like a child after a bad dream,
Crying for my Mother,
For a glimpse of a divinity that looks like me. 


I Love This Old House

Recently on my Facebook wall I shared a short blog post from the Exponent titled, "Why I'm a Mormon Feminist and Why I Won't Tell You to be One Too." I felt like Jess' words expressed my feelings as well when she described what it is like to live between two worlds, constantly asking yourself, "How can I be a feminist in this church?" and simultaneously wondering, "How can I stay in this church?" Every day is an act of faith, an expression of of my hope for things unseen.

I stay for many of the same reasons outlined in the post: community, values, and heritage. My ward is absolutely fabulous my interactions with the members of my ward fuels my hope and faith. I have a deep Mormon heritage that goes down into my bones and pervades all of my soul. But, ultimately I stay for one reason: I know that this is where God wants me.

I have hard questions. Soul wrenching questions that aren't going away. They can't be prayed away or answered by reading more scriptures. If that was the case they would have been gone long ago. When I ask these questions in prayer, heaven is generally silent. But when I ask, "Do you want me in this church? Even with all the pain and frustration?" I feel an overwhelming sense that my Father and Mother in Heaven love me and are present, and their joint answer is, "Yes. Stay. Continue holding on to your hope for things you can't see."

So, I like Jess, choose to stay. But, she says, she would probably not encourage others to join. This statement wouldn't sit well with most members. One of my family members responded to the post in part with the following:    

"In my opinion to be truly converted to the gospel you could never make the following statement: 'But would I ever encourage any one else to join the church? If I’m being honest, the answer is no, probably not.'
Her statement is like saying 'I enjoy living in a safe and comfortable house, but I would never recommend it to my friends who's houses are on fire. After all, they have their agency.'"

I like the image of the church as a house: a place that offers shelter, room for family to gather, a place that feels like home. I'd like to expand on that idea and perhaps give you a better idea of how I see things.

As a child I loved watching This Old House, a program that showed beautiful old houses being restored. I see many of these types of houses in the Avenues in Salt Lake City near the hospital where I work. I marvel at their beauty and grandeur.  

In many ways the church is like one of these grand old homes. Built by our pioneer ancestors, the house of the church is solid, built on a firm foundation. The architecture is lofty and inspiring. There is also much sense of history here. I can see the pictures of my parents, grandparents, generations of love in this home. This is where the people I love gather, sit around the table and share a hearty meal. There is true Christian service. There is joy in this house and I love it dearly. 

But, if I look closely I can see some of the paint is peeling. There's a leaky sink here, a drafty window there. Our family has expanded over the years too. We've opened our doors, not just to our family but now to our neighbors and friends. It's wonderful to share the goodness, but we've got people sleeping on the couch and on the floor. And only half the family has a key to the place that is supposed to be home to all. 

I loved watching the workers on This Old House transform old homes. When you repair and improve an old home it is called restoration. Now there's a word we are familiar with. Recently President Uchtdorf reminded the members that the restoration of the church is an on going process. I believe wholeheartedly in his words

"Sometimes we think of the Restoration of the gospel as something that is complete, already behind us—Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, he received priesthood keys, the Church was organized. In reality, the Restoration is an ongoing process; we are living in it right now. It includes “all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal,” and the “many great and important things” that “He will yet reveal.”"  

When some of us try to speak up and suggest that maybe the leaky window in the back upstairs bedroom needs to be repaired we are met with exclamations of surprise, "My bedroom window is fine! You're just looking to complain." or "Why can't you just focus on the good?" Well, my room's so cold and night and I'm getting sick. When we suggest that maybe it's time to build an addition so we can fit all those who want to join us, we are told, "You should be happy with the house the way it is. It's perfect. If you don't like it, why don't you just leave?" 

I won't leave because I also believe these words from President Uchtdorf: 

"There is too much at stake for us as individuals, as families, and as Christ’s Church to give only a halfhearted effort to this sacred work.
Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is not an effort of once a week or once a day. It is an effort of once and for all."

I am committed to this church. But I won't be one to be lulled into security and say, "All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well." 

I'm not leaving because this is my home and I love it. The plans are divine, but the construction is mortal. We have some work to do; we can fix some of our leaks, finish washing and putting away our laundry and replace our windows with the new Energy Star version. And, like a good Mormon girl I'm going to be humming a hymn while I work, because I'll "help the good work move along, and put my shoulder to the wheel."   


For The Momma

These words are not mine, but they are just what I needed today. 
Adapted from a post titled: "For The Momma of the Strong Willed Child," on We Are That Family. 

You will survive this hard place.

And most importantly, one day, you will thank God for it.

I’ve learned strong-willed toddlers grow up to be strong-willed teens.

And that’s more than okay. It’s actually a blessing and I wouldn’t change it if I could. Even when saying no means tempers flare or make the meanest mom. I’ll take it.

Listen, I know these strong-willed children are challenging. They push our buttons; they make us question our parenting. We cry and hit our knees.

But they are used by God to transform us.

They show us our humanity, our weakness and mostly how much we need Jesus.

We want our determined, fierce kids to stand up first to us so someday they can stand up against the world.

The beauty of strong-willed children is that they are strong.

They will try and lead and manipulate us; starve and dress themselves and win every argument. Their determination will embarrass and thrill us all in the same day.

We will beg and barter and bribe. We will question every move we make and cringe at every fit. But we will remember that their fierce determination is channeled into velvet strength and these kids who won’t give up their will, also will not give in.

Yes, they chase hard after what they want, but they also chase hard after what’s right.
So, Momma of the strong-willed child pulling out your hair, wondering if you’ll ever be able to eat in public again, be encouraged.

That little one will change the world.

But first, he will change you.


Youth Sunday School April "Apostasy and Resoration"

“What does Joseph Smith’s example teach me about learning the gospel?" 

“Joseph Smith sought spiritual knowledge while acting as the Lord’s instrument in restoring the gospel. He pondered the scriptures, asked inspired question, and acted upon what he learned. As we follow the Prophet’s example, we can receive answers to our questions and inspiration to guide our own lives.” Come Follow Me

Help class members apply Joseph Smith’s example of seeking gospel knowledge. We will focus on pondering the scriptures and asking inspired questions.

Gospel Study Skills 
Searching for principles.

Today will discuss the events that led up to Joseph Smith’s First Vision and how we can apply them to our lives. As we talk, I want you to pay attention to principles. A principle is a truth that guides our actions. Sometimes principles are stated plainly in the scriptures or words of the prophets, and other times they are implied in a story.

As we discuss, think about the following questions:

What principles do I learn from this passage?
Are they different from what I thought or learned in the past?
Do they inspire me to change anything in my life?

(Write questions on the board or have word strips and put them on the board)

Can someone summarize for us what was going on in Joseph Smith’s life when he was 14? 

Joseph had a gospel question. Talk about questions. Some questions are more important than others.

Read JS-H 1:8-10, looking for words and phrases that show how important this question was for Joseph Smith.

How did Joseph Smith feel? 

“My mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness”
“My feelings were deep and poignant”
“My mind at times was greatly excited”
“I often said to myself, ‘What is to be done?’

An Obscure Boy by Joseph Brickey 

Notice that Joseph Smith didn't immediately pray and receive the First Vision. What kinds of things did Joseph do in these verses? 

Ask yourself: Is it OK to have gospel questions? Is there room in this church for questions?

As you think about those questions, read the following quotes:

“In this Church that honors personal agency so strongly, that was restored by a young man who asked questions and sought answers, we respect those who honestly search for truth … It’s natural to have questions—the acorn of honest inquiry has often sprouted and matured into a great oak of understanding. There are few members of the Church who, at one time or another, have not wrestled with serious or sensitive questions. One of the purposes of the Church is to nurture and cultivate the seed of faith—even in the sometimes sandy soil of doubt and uncertainty. Faith is to hope for things which are not seen but which are true.”
(Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, “Come, Join with Us,” General Conference, October 2013)

“In this Church there is an enormous amount of room—and scriptural commandment—for studying and learning, for comparing and considering, for discussion and awaiting further revelation. We all learn ‘line upon line, precept upon precept,’ with the goal being authentic religious faith informing genuine Christlike living.”
(Jeffrey R. Holland, “A Prayer for the Children,” General Conference, April 2003)

One day Joseph was reading in the Bible and read a scripture we are all familiar with. I want to you put yourself in Joseph’s shoes. Imagine that you felt what he felt and then imagine you are reading this scripture for the first time.

Have a class member read James 1:5:
 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

Read JS-H 1:12

Joseph said,  “Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know…”

Have you ever felt a scripture or gospel teaching reinforced to you like this?  
How did Joseph apply this scripture to himself?

Read JS-H 1:13
“At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to “ask of God,” concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture.”

Trust in this scripture is what led Joseph to the Sacred Grove and to the First Vision. There he learned that Go would indeed give liberally. We are each blessed by the light, knowledge and power that flowed down from Heaven through Joseph Smith.

Joseph Smith by Walter Rane 

What would have happened if Joseph Smith had thought, “Well, I’m sure the preacher at my mother’s church knows best, I should just follow him?”

As you read the following quotations ponder these questions:

Why is it important that we ask gospel questions? 
Why is it important to search for our own answers? 

“Sometimes we think we can do it by ourselves, that it will make us strong to struggle through a problem alone. Or sometimes we think that no one can help us, no one can understand us. The Savior can and will do both. James 1:5 is that wonderful scripture that gave the boy Joseph Smith courage to go out into the Sacred Grove. Let’s paraphrase it so that it applies to us more directly: “When we lack wisdom, we should ask God. God will give us wisdom generously, without scolding and finding fault. Wisdom will be given to us.” I think that God is waiting for us to ask him. He wants to give to us and give generously, and he will not scold or reproach us. He doesn’t say, “Can’t you figure this out on your own?” or “You, again! Didn’t I just see you this morning?” No, he’s anxious to fill our souls with his goodness and his love. Our questions are just as important to us as Joseph Smith’s question was to him. And who knows, maybe the Lord has an answer for us that turns out to be as important to the world as Joseph Smith’s answer was to us today!”
(Chieko N. Okazaki, former 1st Counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency Cat’s Cradle, pg 87)

 “As a means of coming to truth, people in the Church are encouraged by their leaders to think and find out for themselves. They are encouraged to ponder, to search, to evaluate, and thereby to come to such knowledge of the truth as their own consciences, assisted by the Spirit of God, lead them to discover. Brigham Young said: ‘I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security. … Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not’ (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe [1941], 135). In this manner no one need be deceived.”
(James E. Faust, Former Second Counselor in the First Presidency, “The Truth Shall Make You Free,” Ensign, September 1998)

“Unfortunately, we sometimes don’t seek revelation or answers from the scriptures or the handbooks because we think we know the answers already.
Brothers and sisters, as good as our previous experience may be, if we stop asking questions, stop thinking, stop pondering, we can thwart the revelations of the Spirit. Remember, it was the questions young Joseph asked that opened the door for the restoration of all things. We can block the growth and knowledge our Heavenly Father intends for us. How often has the Holy Spirit tried to tell us something we needed to know but couldn’t get past the massive iron gate of what we thought we already knew?”
(Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, “Acting on the Truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Worldwide Leadership Training 2012)

Watch Mormon Messages video, “Origin

How to you feel after viewing this video? 

We can learn from Joseph that God is aware of us and our lives. Like Joseph, we can feel confident that our questions are important to God. He will answer them in his own way and time. Like Joseph, we must put forward effort to study, ponder and pray for guidance. Then God can use our humility and diligence to reveal knowledge to bless our lives and the lives of those around us.

“Can you imagine how 14-year-old Joseph must have felt to see God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and to hear Heavenly Father call him by his name?
When I visited the Sacred Grove, I tried to imagine what it must have been like to have been Joseph Smith. In those quiet moments, the Spirit whispered to my beating heart that I was standing on holy ground and that all that the Prophet Joseph Smith had said was true. Then came the powerful realization that we are all the beneficiaries of his faith, courage, and steadfast desire to obey God. He had received an answer to his humble prayer. He had seen the Father and His Beloved Son. There in the Sacred Grove, I knew that Heavenly Father not only knew Joseph Smith by name, but He also knows each of us by name. And just as Joseph Smith had an important part to play in this great and marvelous work, we too have an important part to play in these latter days.
Did you know that Heavenly Father knows you personally—by name? The scriptures teach us that this is true … You may not have heard the Lord call you by name, but He knows each one of you and He knows your name … Each of us will play an important part if we follow the pattern established by Joseph Smith. The Lord strengthened Joseph Smith for his divine mission. He will strengthen you for yours.”
(Elaine S. Dalton, Former 2nd Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency, “He Knows You by Name,” General Conference, April 2005)


Event: You Were Born to Lead

"You Were Born to Lead!"
Sheri Dew (CEO of Deseret Book)
March 18, 2015 (6:30-8:30 pm)

For More Information: Utah Women and Leadership Project
To Register on Eventbrite


Quote: Apology

Event: SheTech Explorer 03/15/15

SheTech Explorer Day is a conference for high school girls 9th through 12th grade. This day-long event will include hands-on workshops in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).  Our ultimate goal is to expose girls to technology in a fun atmosphere as well as meet STEM role models to learn more about opportunities in those fields.
For More Information: SheTech Explorer


Quote: Beautiful People

Elements by Loui Jover

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” - Elizabeth Kubler-Ross


Event: Muslim Professional Women in the Modern Near East 03/05/15

For More Information: BYU Women's Studies

Event:Women of the World Fashion Show 03/05/15

"Kate Kopischke is a professional mediator who works with communities and companies who are in conflict over the impacts of large-scale development projects such as oil & gas development, mining and mineral extraction, large commercial agriculture, and infrastructure projects like dams, and highways."

For Tickets: Click Here
For More Information: Women of the World Website


Event: BYU Women in Business Conference February 27-28

For More Information: Facebook Page

Event: The Improvables Ladies' Night

This Friday the Improvables are presenting an all-girls line up with female improvisors from all over the state! This show be one of the most memorable improv events of 2015 and all proceeds go to charity


Events: Circling the Wagon Conference 02/20-21/14

Courageous Conversations

February 20-21 2014

Statement of Purpose:

"The goal of Circling the Wagons conferences is to create spaces where LGBTQ or SSA Mormons and their families and friends can gather to acknowledge, explore and honor shared experiences. No issues strike more deeply than whom we love and how we understand our beliefs about ourselves and god. These issues carry an especially profound weight in Mormon communities and have been the source of a great deal of misunderstanding, judgment and hurt. Consequently, gay Mormons are deeply divided over how to address same-sex attraction and negotiate the choices they face.
In convening this conference, we are inviting LGBTQ/SSA Mormons and their families and friends to step beyond historic divisions to establish a shared space where all who have ever self-identified as Mormon can speak truthfully and respectfully."

For More Information: Circling the Wagons


Mother Unseen

In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?” The other replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.”
“Nonsense” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?”

The second said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.”

The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”

The second insisted, “Well I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”

The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover if there is life, then why has no one has ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”

“Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.”

The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists then where is She now?”

The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her this world would not and could not exist.”

Said the first: “Well I don’t see Her, so it is only logical that She doesn’t exist.”

To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and you really listen, you can perceive Her presence, and you can hear Her loving voice, calling down from above.” - Útmutató a Léleknek


Quote: Love To Pray

Love to pray – 
feel often during the day the need for prayer, and take [the] trouble to pray. Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of himself. Ask and seek, and your heart will grow big enough to receive him and keep him as your own … The more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in our active life. We need silence to be able to touch souls. The essential thing is not what we say, but what God says to us and through us. All our words will be useless unless they come from within – words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.
- from “Something Beautiful for God: Mother Teresa of Calcutta,” by Malcolm Muggeridge

The Lord doesn't want just pretty prayers. 
He wants real prayers. Sometimes we think of those eloquent, gracious prayers in sacrament meeting and general conference as the models for our personal prayers. We try to organize our rough thoughts into smooth sentences and it seems hard. We know how to say, “I’m so grateful for our son who is on his mission,” but we might not know how to say, “I’m so scared and so mad about our son who is on drugs.” Heavenly Father wants to hear the scared and mad prayers just as much as he wants to hear the grateful prayers.

When Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, he was honest about how hard the Atonement was going to be for him when he prayed that the cup might pass from him. He struggled with a “very heavy” burden of feelings, saying, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death,” and he prayed, “Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me” (Mark 14:33-34, 36). He was honest about how much he didn’t like what was happening; and I think it’s because of his honesty that we so revere the love and humility revealed by the rest of his prayer: “Nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt (Mark 14:36).
- from Sanctuary, page 18-19 by Chieko Okazaki

Events: Sonia Sotomayor at the U 01/28/14

For More Information:


Event: Outreach Fireside 12/25/15


Sunday, January 25, 2015 

7:00 pm

Wells Stake Building (Jefferson Ward)
1883 South West Temple

"No one is, or ever could be, excluded from the circle of God's love or the extended arms of His Church for we are all His beloved sons and daughters." God Loveth His Children, 2007.

Musical Fireside for all LDS LGBT,/SSA, Families, and Friends.

Instrumental and vocal music will be presented with a variety of ensemble groups. We plan on part of the program to include YOU singing, too ! 

There will be an interactive phase to the fireside where people can describe what they would like in the future for the Outreach Fireside,

Following the program, everyone is invited to share light refreshments, and start the New Year off with good friends.

Please bring a favorite easy-to-eat treat to share.

More Information: Facebook Event


Event: " By Study, By Faith" Film Series 01/23/15

The Faculty Women’s Association and the Theatre & Media Arts department have been working together for the last year to create a series of short films about the importance of education for women. The series features ten women faculty members from BYU and their educational and professional journeys.
For More Information: BYU Women's Studies


Events: Real Women Run 01/17/2014

For More Information: realwomenrundotorg.wordpress.com

Quote: The Table I Long For

“The table I long for—the church I hope for—is a place where we let others see where the spirit meets the bone and help heal the wounds. The table I long for—the church I hope for—has the grace of the Gospel as its magnificent centerpiece. The table I long for—the church I hope for—is where we care more about our companions than about winning our arguments with them, where we set aside the condescension that accompanies our notion that we need to bring them our truth. The table I long for—the church I hope for—has each of you sitting around it, struggling to hold the knowledge that you, vulnerable you and courageous you, are beloved by God, not just welcome but desperately, fiercely wanted.” - Jeff Chu "Together At the Table"