Saturday, June 28, 2014

Ruminating....

I've hesitated joining the online foray into the discussion over the Ordain Women movement and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  I've discussed it plenty with my own family, but that's about it. Publicly, I have left 2 comments on different threads, and they turned out to be longer than I thought.
Personally, I do not have an opinion concerning any member of Ordain Women, or any of the folks involved with the podcast Mormon Stories. And honestly, it's not my business what they do with their own personal time. I certainly would not want people speculating about my own spiritual path--it's no one's business but mine and the Lord's. **If you wish to comment on this blog post, please only do so with good intent. I will just delete negative comments about the Church or it's people. ANY of its people.**

However, I have seen more than a handful of people and public forums as a result of articles written in major news publications and/or blogs, that are disseminating oft-misused quotes and critiques of Church doctrine that do not explore the other side. This attempt at journalism is kind of disgusting to me. I thought journalism was supposed to explore both sides? I am not a journalist, nor do I have much experience in writing, but I will say that one of the principles I was taught in basic English classes is that when you write an INFORMATIVE article, you are to represent the opinions and facts from both sides of a discussion. When you write a PERSUASIVE piece, you are to still present both sides, but fuse your opinion (without using "I" or "me") in a logical, well-thought out argument. Journalism should be informative. But more often than not, it is used as a PERSUASIVE tool. I'm tired of the news being so one-sided (I'm talking to ALL news outlets, both the left and right leaning ones).

Ok, that all being said, there are a few doctrinal points that I want to address. To be frank and in full disclosure--I am not a church scholar. I am a lifelong member of the Church and I love to learn. I also love to see and read the opinions of others because I am interested in their points of view. They cause me to question, to study further, and work with the Spirit to understand more deeply. Thank you to those who post such thoughts openly. It's a brave thing. 

1. The Church eventually gave blacks the priesthood, so ordaining women is the same situation.
I recently read and responded to this article on a friend's newsfeed, and immediately thought "oh here we go." He used the same argument that many have used on BOTH SIDES of the discussion concerning men and the priesthood. The oft-used quote from Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie (p.114) about blacks and their curse of black skin--blah blah blah. Unfortunately so many people took that quote as doctrine. People in history have even used it in talks in church. But guess what? The Church did NOT EVER release that viewpoint as doctrine from an authorized prophet of the Lord. McConkie's book Mormon Doctrine is just a book. It's an opinion. Much of it is helpful and informative, but it is not doctrine. Any time people used Mormon Doctrine as a reference in church, I cringed. Because I know that there is outdated opinion in it.
Also, the author of that article and others, fail to mention that (and in the interest of responsible reporting, they should...) Bruce R McConkie completely retracted his statement about blacks not receiving the priesthood, following the revelation that was received in 1978. His BYU Speech in 1978 clearly recounts the method receiving that revelation with the quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency.  Bruce R. McConkie was an intelligent and deeply spiritual Apostle of the Lord. He was also human. And he was not the spokesman for the church. To people that keep using his Mormon Doctrine quote as evidence of WHY the priesthood was withheld from those of African descent: please stop. Because that was and is not EVER doctrine.
In fact, the Church has not ever released a statement on why the priesthood was withheld from black men. Joseph Smith ordained a few. And then, in the 1850's that practice stopped with Brigham Young. We can talk and argue all day as to why--but here's the bottom line: the Lord never revealed that blacks could not receive the priesthood. It is not scripture. Thus, we see that even Church leaders can sometimes be influenced by culture, timing and even personal belief. However, God corrects what He needs to correct in His time. Sometimes His time is just the trial for us. Because I will not deny that withholding the priesthood from black men hasn't been a trial for me personally, or many others in the Church that don't understand why things were done the way they were. What is important is that the Church and the Lord's eternal purposes continue to roll on and modern revelation is a hallmark of this gospel. Thank goodness for that!
Now, some people may understand this previous paragraph/statement from me as saying "then your Church is untrue and inconsistent. It is imperfect." Let me be clear: the Gospel of Jesus Christ is perfect. His Church organization is perfect. His people--including the called, inspired leadership--are NOT perfect. I really love that quote by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland last year in conference (heck, the WHOLE TALK!) when he said: "So be kind regarding human frailty—your own as well as that of those who serve with you in a Church led by volunteer, mortal men and women. Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we. And when you see imperfection, remember that the limitation is not in the divinity of the work. As one gifted writer has suggested, when the infinite fulness is poured forth, it is not the oil’s fault if there is some loss because finite vessels can’t quite contain it all.10 Those finite vessels include you and me, so be patient and kind and forgiving."
In the Book of Mormon, the last prophet mentioned, Moroni, lamented that people would reject the work (Book of Mormon) because of its imperfections (sound like a familiar worry? Moses, anyone?), particularly of the writers themselves. But then he humbly, but boldly, reminded each of us reading: "And whoso receiving this record, and shall not condemn it because of the imperfections which are in it, the same shall know of greater things than these...And if there be faults they be the faults of a man But behold, we know no fault; nevertheless, God knoweth all thing....For behold, the same that judgeth rashly shall be judged rashly again...." (Mormon 8:12, 17-19...but read the whole dang chapter!)
(If you do not wish to take the Book of Mormon as credible evidence of my discussion, here, then you should probably not keep reading. This article is religiously informed. Sorry--not sorry!)

Back to my original point in #1 statement: blacks and the priesthood vs. women and the priesthood=NOT the same thing.
The Lord established His church organization in one particular way: He personally called and ordained them. He continues to do so today through inspired calling of leaders in the Church. As members, we sustain them. We do not follow blindly. But we sustain them and that system.
I have faith in the statement made by President Wilford Woodruff: "The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty." 

So when I see that quote, oft repeated by other church leaders, I trust it. Because I trust God, and I have a testimony that this is His Church and His gospel.
Now...what does this have to do with women receiving the priesthood? Well, when Jesus came in the meridian of time to establish His Church and His new testament--his complete gospel--He formed a Church organization. In the New Testament, we read that He called Twelve Apostles (Luke 6:13) They were men that He was inspired to call. He also had several other disciples--those who followed His teachings and were devoted to Jesus' divine mission. Those disciples included women and men of great faith. We read about them in the New Testament (of Jairus, of Mary and Martha, of Mary the mother of Jesus, of the woman with an issue of blood, of Lazarus, etc...). Now, if Jesus--being perfect--simply extended priesthood keys to His closest friends, logically it would have included women, too right? They were with him all along. They were the first ones to see Him resurrected. When he called a new apostle, after the fall of Judas Iscariot, why not choose Mary--who witnessed Jesus in His resurrected body first? Or Martha who expressed so much faith, even in the face of certain persecution surrounding her raised brother from the dead and the wrath of Jewish leadership? Does Jesus really deep-down discriminate against women? Would the perfect Son of our perfect God (if you don't have a testimony of his perfection and divinity--this point may be moot for you, and I encourage you to study and gain a testimony for yourself!) also be subject to such "patriarchy?"
No.
Because Jesus was not calling his Apostles because he hates women. Or even that he discriminates against them. He called them because that is how He established his church, along the lines of priesthood power since ancient times. God is no "respecter of persons." Thus, he does not esteem one sex over another. If he did, he'd by showing favoritism for one over another, and therefore could not be the perfect God we worship. But He did establish his Church, and indeed has given his priesthood keys throughout time, to men. Does that mean that women are exempt from the priesthood?
NO!!!! (I will continue this in point 3). But you should read the articles in point 2.

2. Men are not the priesthood.
Please see M. Russell Ballard's talk in April 2013.
And Dallin H. Oaks' talk from April 2014.
Because I can't say this any better.

3. There are evidences in the scriptures of women prophesying (therefore, they can have the priesthood).
There is a difference between prophesying (meaning bearing testimony of Jesus), and being the Prophet of the church. Because the Prophet is the only one authorized with the keys of the Priesthood to delegate who and how the Priesthood is administered throughout the Church. The Prophet acts under the direction of the Savior. Once again, please study Elder Oaks' talk from April 2014.

3. What's the point of the priesthood, after all?
 It is to bless and serve God's children, and the highest blessing we can receive from God is the sealing power--thus helping us achieve eternal families. This ordinance is required to enter into the highest order of the celestial kingdom. And it is an ordinance available to all. Because God wants us to return to Him! And not alone--but with our kindred and family.
This is the thought that has been on my mind during the entire discussion of women, men and the priesthood going around. So many still don't get it.
We can clearly see that God established His church with Apostles, the Priesthood power, prophets and continuing revelation. He did not exclude anyone from the blessings of the priesthood. Because the blessings are what matter, not who is giving them (man or woman).
Furthermore, women and men have the opportunity to practice the power of God's priesthood in its highest form through temple ordinances--particularly being sealed. I think that people are uncomfortable with the fact that creating an eternal family is the highest expression of His Priesthood because that just doesn't "jive" with modern notions of what's really important. Family, the greatest achievement?! Heck no! ---And I hear that discomfort from some family-loving people, like Mormons! Imagine how the rest of the world may choose to see this? Heaven forbid we truly recognize (aka understand and act on...) the family as the most important thing on this planet and in our precious little lives. We, as Mormons, spout a family-centric doctrine--but do we really get it? THAT'S THE POINT. ALL OF IT. That men and women are created by God to become like Him, to inherit all that he has: an eternal family and rejoicing in that posterity. Are we really comfortable with that doctrine? Is that our highest aim and ambition? If not--check yourself! I think we have a lot to learn, and a lot to study, on this point. We haven't gotten it yet--not as a whole. We get glimpses, and, admittedly, there are many who understand. But until we, as a worldwide church, truly embrace this doctrine of the family creation (as made possible by the sealing power in the temple--the utmost expression of God's Holy Priesthood), we will continue to squabble over what we perceive to be equality-centric issues. If we are continually focused on "well you can do this and I can't do that,"we'll never see the bigger picture. It's about working together to build what God builds--creation of an eternal family. It's the ultimate reflection of His Plan of Salvation and Happiness.

4. One more note on excommunication....
A lot of news outlets are reporting excommunication of certain members of the Church and not citing the reasons why a Church does so... Church Disciplinary councils exist for three reasons:
1. To save the soul of the transgressor
2. To protect the innocent
3. To safeguard the Church's purity, integrity and good name.
Much has been said concerning the church disciplinary system...but let's continue to focus on these 3 reasons. I will say this--I have observed as my dad has participated in Church Disciplinary Counsels. He doesn't take them lightly. Church leaders consider things very prayerfully, because they of course understand that the individual worth of souls is great in the sight of God, and they want to do His will. But if people are unwilling to change, those leaders have to consider the 3 reasons for said councils. And if inspired to take action, they must. But let us not forget...there is ALWAYS a way back. God does not leave us alone or without help. We can find comfort in His Spirit. But we have to be humble and willing to receive His correction and counsel. He doesn't excuse wrongdoing. He does welcome our questions. And He loves us. Always.
N.B. The First Presidency just released this statement, which I think sums things up pretty well on the topic: https://www.lds.org/prophets-and-apostles/june-first-presidency-statement?lang=eng

Saturday, May 17, 2014

love letter to WA

The northwest is a beautiful place.
Today my dad texted me to let me know he went clam digging. Got his limit in less than an hour--2 hours before the tide was low. He said the clams were showing all over the place.
You need to know that my dad clam digs old school---the curved shovel. No clam gun or fancy tubes for him. And no special gear. He digs in a ratty old sweatshirt, some cut off sweat shorts, and water moccasins. He does this in spring digs, in middle-of-winter digs. Which reminds me--how many times I DON'T see most Washingtonians, the ones who live outside of Seattle or it's related suburbia, wearing high-performance (read: expensive) gear. I know, I know..I'm a sucker for Patagonia. But seriously, drive outside of the I-5 belt, to more plain places and most people are just wearing jeans and a sweatshirt.
I remember driving to a dig on New Years Eve, we're somewhere out on highway 101, passing old moss covered homes and old trucks, and the only real sign of "hey we're with the rest of the world" was the big "12" flags hanging from various homes. Seahawk pride permeates all of Washington, that's for sure.
Anyways, back to my dad. Today he got to go on a beautiful dig on the coast. Not a lot of people. Warm (well, to my dad). No wind. And clams everywhere. But my favorite text was one that read "I even dug a few clams just with my hands. I haven't done that since I was a kid."
It was a treat in so many ways: clams so abundant that you can just dig them by hand (not common), a throwback to my dad's childhood--and therefore a connection for me and our whole family (we aren't religious clam diggers, but it's been a family activity since I was a little girl, and it was for my dad when he was a kid), and just the whole nostalgia of it all. That things were right in nature for today.
My dad loves his tools and gadgets, he detests social media, but man--my dad really does appreciate the Pacific Northwest. I can hear him speak through a smile when he describes great days like today. Or the pleased look on his face when my husband and I agree to wake up at 2:30 am to drive up to Sunrise, to see the sunrise with him. Or when he talks about the beauty of St. Helens and the surrounding foothills on a blue, clear day. Even when he laments the suburban sprawl: he doesn't whine or chain himself to a tree, but my dad sure does appreciate the unique natural beauty of Washington and it makes him sad to see people cutting down the trees. I feel like I have certainly inherited this same love for my state.
I always hope he doesn't drive by our old home. I always do when I go back. The new tenants have cut down most of our trees. Granted, they were probably a hazard (I remember the snowstorm of 92 and one almost crushing us in the front room as my dad walked back from the mailbox). But it makes me sad to see the trees gone--because I have fond memories of so many games and adventures played around those trees.

Now that I don't live in Washington, there are so, so many places I yearn to see and visit. I didn't explore my homeland nearly enough. I make a point to do so when I go home. But there's just never enough time. I haven't been to many places in the world, but I will go to my grave swearing that the northwest, particularly the northwest coast of Washington, is a little piece of God's best work. Just the green of it all. Green is a color, but also a smell. Driving over I-80 on our roadtrips home, rolling down the windows and just smelling it. And then driving the 101 and being assaulted by such a vivid color of grass that just doesn't exist anywhere else...and the moss, oh I miss the moss. I just love it. I ache for it. I try to explain that to my parents and others, and mostly they go "oh...yeah." They don't get it. Because they haven't been away from it. In this case, absence has not only made me fonder of my home state, but yearn for it. To breathe deep and feel clean. To appreciate the moisture. To just drive on back roads.

I don't know when--but I will go back permanently. I will I will.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A book idea? Short story? Nightmare?

On Tuesday, I could tell I had a fever all day. On Wednesday, I sort of lost my voice as this nasty cold took over. Thursday, I got this surge of energy, but I was still sick. And Friday, my voice gradually and completely petered out. Like a new clarinet player, who just can't get some of those notes out. My voice would just drop out on certain words and sounds. Then, by the end of the school day, it was gone.
It continues to be gone. It's Saturday.

Yesterday evening, I was so tired of resting, that I took a walk. Danny was off playing a show at some house party. I did not want to be around people. And what would be the point if I feel like shiz and have no voice?
So I went for a 15 block walk, around my neighborhood, then over to the school that I work at. The play was going on, so I went to the bathroom and then left to continue walking home. All this time, I have been devising a plot summary in my head for a book, based on my experiences. I've never seriously wanted to write anything before, but this is an idea. NO ONE STEAL IT (ok, since I'm putting it on the internet, someone is bound to steal it. Whatevs...it was here first. And I legitimately will probably never write it.).
So the idea is: character (me) loses voice permanently.
So many questions to answer:
1) do I learn to sign to communicate?
2) What community do I fit in? I'm not deaf, I have all of my senses.
--which leads me to the idea: voice is not a sense. It's not!! And yet, how much we depend on it!
3) Can I possibly keep my job? I love teaching!
4) How would losing my voice affect my marriage?
5) How would I ever communicate my love to a child?
6) I can't ever call home. I can only text.
7) My life will be through a digital platform.
8) Can I meet Stephen Hawking?
9) I'll never get to make a great speech, a goal for my life.
10) Am I technically a mute?
11) Is there a society for people who have lost their voice?
12) What does it mean to lose your voice--figuratively and literally?
13) I can never sing again. No more songs of Zion (hymns)--which are, actually, one of my favorite things. No more singing in the car. No more karaoke. No more humming. I can't hum.
14) How will this change my personality?

Dude, this is a friggin' existential crisis, kind of. Mulling this over....

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I'm the Girl who...

I'm the girl who walks...
-I walk to and from work
-I walk to shop for my work (I'm a foods teacher)
-I walk to the grocery store
-I walk to the library
-I walk (well, attempt to jog) to the gym
-I walk to visit neighbors
-I walk alone a lot

All made possible by two great shoes: Chacos and/or Privos.

I decided, as I walked to the store tonight for groceries, that I'm ok with being known as the girl who walks. It's funny, because in Guatemala and in big cities, too, walking is not an unfashionable thing. But here, in suburbia, if you have to go more than one block (or even that), you gotta drive.
I have the luxury of no access to a car most of the time (we are still sharing one in our marriage, and I like the no-debt thing), so I'm kind of forced to walk. I used to feel a little shamed or embarrassed because here I am holding big bags full of stuff and kind of in pain. But I'm gradually accepting my known "walking woman" status. My students tell me all the time, "hey I saw you walking by my house!" Yep--I live by my students. It's awesome, because I can threaten them with "if you don't do your homework, I will come to your house and help you study! Yes, I know where you live!"

Anyways, I like walking. For once, I can relate to a Jane Austen character!

Off to clean my kitchen and finally make dinner. At 9:00 pm. Hooray for me. My motivation meter always kicks in later at night. I don't know why.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Saffron Chicken Deliciousness

Hey, thought I'd share a Monica creation. I just made this on a whim this afternoon, it really was quite easy. And delicious. Served with fresh country french bread from Harmons. YUM. And now I will eat more of that bread with EVOO & Balsamic. I.love.carbs

Saffron Chicken Deliciousness

Ingredients
2.5 lb. chicken thighs, or other bone in chicken (seasoned with salt & pepper)
2-3 carrots, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 c. packed spinach
1 pinch saffron (a generous pinch...)
Salt
Pepper
2 c. rice
1 qt. chicken broth, warmed
2 T. veg. oil
2 fresh thyme sprigs


Directions
*I cook this meal in my handy-dandy Le Creuset. Any stove top deep saucepan would work, though. But, "if you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up"--Bueller, Bueller anyone?)
1. Prepare your veggies (dice the carrots and red bell, mince the garlic, chop the onion)
2. Heat your oil in the pan and saute the onions. After a few minutes, add the garlic and carrots and bell pepper. Stir to sauté 3 minutes.
3. Add the saffron and sauté another 3-4 minutes.
4. Add the 2 c. rice to the veggies and sauté 5 minutes. The mixture should be a nice yellow color now. Oh, how I LERV saffron!
5. Add the spinach and stir 1 minute, until wilted and mixed in with the rice and veggies.
6. Add the seasoned chicken pieces and nestle them in the saucepan on top of the rice. Make sure all the veggies/rice are underneath the chicken (not up the sides of the pan). Place the thyme sprigs between chicken pieces.
7. Add the warm chicken broth, make sure thyme is completely submerged (so its flavor infuses in the liquid!)
8. Bring to a boil (4 minutes).
9. Place the lid, cook on medium heat about 20-25 minutes.
10. Serve with country french bread. YUM!

Loni Jane Anthony

Some people are kind of up-in-arms about photographer Loni Jane Anthony's raw vegan and unusual diet during her pregnancy (read: here)

I am not going to pick it apart, nutritionally. I guess only she will know how it affects her and her baby.

But here's what I do want to say: honey, you say to all the "haters" to back off and stop hating, but if you didn't post your stuff, they wouldn't be hating. Looks like someone is in need of attention. Any attention. So any criticism coming your way, legitimate or not, well, baby, you asked for it.

Yes, I just said that.

Anything you post to a public forum, to "share about yourself" is open for public criticism. That's the just name of the game when you go public.
This isn't victim shaming, it's just freakin' common sense. If you don't want people to judge your life choices, then don't go telling everyone about them. Don't instagram them. Don't facebook them. Period.

I just wish 90% of my facebook newsfeed peeps would get this.

Monday, November 11, 2013

My Students know more about nutrition than most of America

I have been steadily keeping track of the myths I have debunked in my classes while teaching Foods & Nutrition:

1) Bread does NOT make you fat. Nor do carbs. Carbs are good. Carbs are primarily for energy. Carbs come from a lot of sources (i.e. veggies, grains, fruit). There are complex carbs and simple carbs. Complex carbs make you fuller longer because it takes a while for your body to break them down. Which means eating less with energy drawn out more. So please, don't let anyone (including your self) guilt trip you into thinking that eating that grain is going to kill you someday---that goes for all you gluten-haters (obs. my celiac friends are exempt from this).

2) Coconut Oil is a saturated fatty acid. That means, it is the worst kind of fat for you. Right up there with animal fats and palm oil (the kind used for movie popcorn). It raises your HDL cholesterol (a good, thing, yes), but it raises your LDL cholesterol, too. Which is not a good thing. Because too much LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream means blocked arteries and HEART ATTACK risk. I love how coconut EVERYTHING is a fad. Except, it's not necessarily the healthiest fad for you. Stick to monounsaturated fats like: olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil and avocados.

3) The "organic" movement is great. But it also is a big marketing ploy to get you to pay 200% for the food you eat, when there are only some differences in the pesticides that are allowed and banned. THAT'S RIGHT PEOPLE. Your produce, even though it's organic, still has chemicals in and on it. I think sometimes people think "ooh this is healthier because it's organic." Read my lips: THE NUTRITION IS THE SAME. There are differences in what chemicals are allowed, but in terms of what it does in and for your body--it's all the same. Sorry to burst your organic bubble, peeps, but organic produce does not come from a fairy land where old Farmer Joe just lovingly raises and talks to your bell peppers and magically they are the Hulk in superfoods.
I've accepted that that is just the world we live in--we would not be able to produce enough veggies for the world to eat without some scientific manipulation. That's fact. Get your head out of the sand.
Do I advocate for people growing their own produce at home? HELL YES. Anyone who knows me knows how passionate I am about that. But I'm tired of the organic-shaming (on people who don't buy organic) and vice-versa.

4) Vitamins and minerals do not GIVE you energy. Yes, some B vitamins assist in energy production (once you ingest carbohydrates, for example). But they provide zero calories. Which are a principal of energy, or heat. So that vitamin water? Yeah, not doing anything else besides hydrate you.

5) Water is water is water is water. You could drink water from a dirty well and it'll still hydrate your cells the same--and probably give you some furry little friends in your intestinal tract. But no matter how much money you spend on yo' fancy water, or whatever filtration system you use, just remember that it'll hydrate your body all the same.

6) A nutritionist is NOT a certified ANYTHING in the professional health world. If someone's title is "nutritionist," they thought of that themselves. There is no national certification process for a "nutritionist." And your doctor? Yeah, they are not required to be as in-the-know on nutritional policy, as, say, a Registered Dietician. And any RD that advocates for less exercise, or extreme dieting (meaning: cutting various food groups entirely), is NOT in your best interest. They are paid to push results if they are doing that. Trust an RD that is open about health and nutrition, advocates steady commitment to balanced eating and exercise, and does not advocate for cutting any food group entirely from your diet. It makes me sad to see so many RD's convert to the dark side because there is a fad trend they can push people to do for money. And it makes me sad that people will blindly follow.

These are the humble musings of a FACS teacher. I love my job. And my kids actually know this stuff. Hooray!