Ponderings, Uncategorized

Family, Excommunication and The LDS Church

Some have said that the recent potential excommunication of Kate Kelly (the founder of Ordain Women) and John Dehlin are un-Christlike and should not happen.  They argue that a loving Father would NEVER force his child out of his home.  While I don’t know all the facts about the cases (and either does anyone else since the ONLY information we are getting is from Kate and John) I do know some things about how a family works.

I am a member of a large diverse family. My family (thinking of just my siblings and their spouses) consists of 8 biological children and their spouses and 3 adopted First Nation siblings who happen to LOVE to argue–I mean discuss things passionately.  While we all have the same end goal (to return to our Heavenly Father) we definitely act out those goals differently.

Some of us homeschool, some don’t, some have gone on missions (girls and boys) some have not, some struggle with FASD, and mental illness’s and some don’t, many suffer from clinical depression, many don’t. Some have left the church, and some have never even come close to a ‘crisis of faith’. Some live with pornography and word of wisdom addictions. Some struggled with same-gender attraction. Some are caucasion, First Nation, Hawaiian, and American (I am canadian  ).

Some are unmarried, some are married. Some have been on the brink of divorce, and some have not even seen that as a possibility. ALL have wrestled with what they believe and why (and likely do on a daily basis). Here are some things I have learned in working in this loving, accepting, kind,crazy and incredible environment.

1) God makes all kinds of different people who all have weakness’s and strengths and each one is a gift to us. Our weakness’s and strengths can both be used to uplift and challenge those around us. This is a good thing (they can also bring us down)

2) We are all God’s children and priceless to him and ALWAYS will be, no matter what we do, what we say and what we believe. The Savior cared enough to die for each of us collectively and individually.

3) A family is the best place to make mistakes, to foul up, to learn and to grow. If we don’t feel safe making mistake around those who should love us the most, it makes life a very insecure place to be.

4) All of us make mistakes, from the parents to the child. Oldest to the youngest.

5) It is the relationship that matters most. Who cares if someone has an addiction, leaves the church, is in jail or can’t read. We are all part of each other, what one can or can’t do, did or didn’t do should never trump our relationship. Even if someone is terribly wrong, how can they even imagine to be able to repent, change or grow if we don’t let them know that we care, and that they are infinitely more than their actions.

6) Sometimes it is appropriate to let people just get their ‘natural consequences’.

7) Occasionally (it has only happened once in my families life and it was so painful) it is best for everyone to ‘let go’ of someone who is trying to leave. To admit that as painful as it is for us, we each need to walk our own path of faith-even if we know that the sibling is walking into the lions den unarmed and without much faith (unlike Daniel, much like the prodigical son). On these occasions you need to be sure to be so close and ever aware when the moment of pain is so great that humility is found and your sibling returns. That is NEVER the time to gloat, instead, killing the fatted calf should be expected.

8) Occasionally (it has only happened once in my family, and I was the person who had to do it) you need to prayfully open the door and tell the brother (who already ran away from home and was wanted by the police) that it is time to go, knowing he has no other option but literally camping. Sometimes, the kindest thing is to admit that this place that I call home is really a prison for my brother. Sometimes the only way someone can learn to fly is help lovingly push them out. This could be for their good, or for the good of the other children in their home. If this ever has to happen, I promise you that it is not easy for the one involved to make the choice. It is not done lightly and pride is not usually to cause of this.

9) If you ever do have to have someone leave your home, it should never mean they are not still loved and part of the family. You can still love, support, pray for, be kind to, and help someone who is ‘ex-communicate’ from the protective wall of your home. This is not an ultimatum, it, in some cases is a healing process. In our case it has been an important step to ‘facing reality’, learning important life lessons, and can truly be the most Christ-like option.

10) Lastly, it is so important that other family members, who do not intimately know the details are so careful about judging other and and passing judgement. Out of respect to my brother, I choice not to disclose some personal reasons why I asked him to leave even though I had community members, family members, and even church members not only question my actions, but criticize and malign me. My heart still breaks when ever I think of my poor brother who I adore, snuggled to bed, wiped his tears and had live with me for years.

With these things in mind, I doubt that those who are participating in exploring the possibility of excommunicating Kate Kelly and John Dehlin are doing so lightly.  I am sure their knees have been worn with wear and their hearts full of concern for all who are involved.  Does this mean I support the excommunication?  I don’t know, with the information I have thus far, I am willing to trust in God and humanity to do the right thing (since I have no control or influence in these cases that seems the right thing to do) and try to be careful about passing judgement on anyone who is involved.

Family Fun, Ponderings

Crowd Sourcing Genealogy Indiegogo Campaign

Eric Proffitt-Crowd Sourcing Genealogy Indiegogo

Instructions to make your own family history wreath

Four years ago my brother-in-law, Eric Proffitt, my sister and five kids came to live with me and my six kids and 18 year old brother  for a few months.

One day, my brother-in-law came home beaming.  The greatest idea hit him while he was struggling to work on a friends ancestral line.  Eric Proffitt had been helping people out with their genealogy for years out of kindness because he loved the mystery of it all.

“What if” Eric asked “we had a website that would let people post small genealogy requests for pictures, grave rubbings or records to be pulled that would help them with their family search”. I love genealogy myself, but at the time I was at a 5 year roadblock and wished beyond wish that I could get some help.  I had already paid 2k to a professional genealogist and I had gotten as far as I could at the time.

Come Join the Campaign

I immediately thought the idea was brilliant “Kinda like being able to Geo-cache but with a purpose!!”  To me, it sounded like the perfect way to get the masses involved in genealogy.  At the time, I had never heard of indexing or crowd-sourcing.  Geo-caching was the closest thing I could imagine to having millions of people around the world involved in one project.

“To make the site more sustainable and appeal to non-genealogist, we could make it so the person requesting the information can put up a fee that they would pay to get their request fulfilled-five dollars being the most common cost” my Eric Proffitt explained.  I was hooked.  I strongly encouraged him to find out how we would make it happen.

Family History Tree

The next couple of weeks Eric did a ton of research.  It seemed that the basic programming fee would cost 30k, and that didn’t include marketing, on-going costs, or web-design, which would be another 10k.  Eric Proffitt flew to Salt Lake and discussed his idea with one of the top genealogy organizers there who loved the idea and told Eric that if he got everything together in time, Eric could present at the up-coming genealogy conference.  Eric Proffitt was stoked, but cost of the whole thing was too daunting, and the idea was put on the back burner.

Fast forward four years.  I had just got so frustrated with the road block I was having with my family tree that my husband found a Ukrainian teacher who happened to be a gifted photographer, to visit my ancestral village.  Our hope was that since we couldn’t afford to go ourselves, that we would send this teacher guy to our village and see if he could take pictures of the location, and try and meet any relatives that still may be living there.  It cost me 1200 dollars to get  him to visit to villages.  With seven kids, the 1200 dollars was hard to come by, but it was thoroughly worth it.  The pictures he sent, and the people he met added a whole new dimension to my family tree.  I was so thrilled.  My husband was like-wise very impressed with the whole process.  It was then we approached Eric Proffitt and Mike Parker,  with looking into the whole crowd-sourcing genealogy idea again.  They were both still interested and in researching the idea again, and were thrilled to find out that the cost to do the whole project had dropped significantly even when he added in the cost of developing an app to go with the website.

Create your own Family Tree Ornaments

Unfortunately the price hadn’t dropped enough to make it affordable for us to do on our own.  It was then we decided to try and crowd-fund the idea-an option not available 4 years ago.  We knew that if the idea was as amazing as we thought it was, that it would catch the vision of other casual genealogist like ourselves and take off.

We now have less than 20 days to finish our campaign and are still short the amount we need to make it work.  If you would love to know more about your genealogy, I would encourage you to visit our Indiegogo Campaign and think about donating. Together we can make this work. . . Updates: Thanks to funders through indiegogo Campaign and other private investors we are ready to launch out new sight within the next month.  The name of this site is called ROOTSBID.  I am beyond excited.  Whenever my husband is overworked, and our bank account is looking slim, I just feel a thrill to think that our dream is being completed right now!!!  

Ponderings, Uncategorized

Because He Lives, We Shall Live Also: Passing Away Of Josh Burton, LDS Missionary

Three words, ripped from the heart of my older sister changed my life yesterday.  ‘Josh is dead’.  In a moment, my world spun on it’s axis and everything changed.  Down on our knees, right where we were, my husband and children poured our hearts out to our Father.  Josh, the second oldest brother in the family of 11.  Josh, the boy who filled the stage and town with his smiles and love for life.  Josh who made music for the soul and was currently serving a mission.  A son, a brother, a friend, a servant of God.

As I walked to my little sisters house, a solemnity seemed to cover this piece of the world.  It was if even the birds stilled in their reverence for the moment.  All my earlier frustrations about slip and slides, money, and messes left discarded where I heard those poignant words.  How could this happen? Just the night before, his father had told me of the accident.  Two vertebraes were broken and the doctors operating on him gave him a 1% chance of ever walking again.  Shortly after the operation he had wiggled his toes, then rotated his feet and lifted his legs, an unheard of feat.  The prayers and fasting of his mission, his brothers mission, our ward and countless others were calling upon the powers of heaven and miracles were happening.  The doctors and nurses at the hospital were not of our faith, but they recognized Josh as a man of God and had all joined in our prayers.  So many prayers, and such incredible miracles on his behalf.  Only four month away from finishing his mission, with one brother on a mission and one more just leaving for the MTC that day, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that he would be taken care of.  A Savior who died for him, surely would not leave him at this critical time.

Tears, hugs and questions formed in all of our minds.  We knew that his mother was enroute to visiting him and likely did not know.  All around me were little clusters of cousins, friends and siblings crying, hugging and praying.  We all wanted to do something to ease the burden of this family.  Almost all of my kids had a friend at the moment who’s hearts were breaking.  I wanted to go to the home, but did not want to intrude on such a sacred, heart wrenching time.  They were our dear friends, but only recently so.  Would we, should we go?  If I went, what should I say?  All day I tossed around my heartache, my doubts, my concerns.  Finally, I decided that I would rather go and risk intruding to let them know that they were loved and being prayed for, than to hold back and risk them having to bare this burden alone.

Together, a group of us, nine in total loaded up in our vehicles and made the journey to their home.  The solemnity of this occasion weighed upon me.  Driving up, I saw a young boy praying on the hill.  The house was ‘a quiet house’.  We rang the doorbell, and graciously we were let in with tears and hugs.  How do you prepare for a moment like this?  My eyes caught sight of the 14 year old daughter red-eyed and weary, little Gab, only 7 with quivering lips, and one of my 9 year old cubs bravely biting his lip.  Josh’s father lead us to the living room.  For the next few hours we quietly listened, hugged, cried, laughed, sang and had our faith strengthened.  Such a solemn, sacred time.  In this moment, sharing so closely someones pain, the Gospel truths shone brighter than I had ever seen them before.  Heavenly hosts felt so close.  My faith of life after death, of the atonement, of the gospel was reaffirmed in a way it had never been before.  My mind was drawn to a recent conference talk about a father who lost his 18 month year old son Tyson.

The father said:

Tyson has remained a very integral part of our family. Through the years it has been wonderful to see the mercy and kindness of a loving Father in Heaven, who has allowed our family to feel in very tangible ways the influence of Tyson. I testify that the veil is thin. The same feelings of loyalty, love, and family unity don’t end as our loved ones pass to the other side; instead, those feelings are intensified.

That talk has comforted me so many times as I tried to imagine what I would do if I lost one of my own precious children.  Life is not fair I would definitely exclaim at a time like this, but hopefully I would remember the beautiful words of another sister, who not so long ago who lost a family member and stated at the funeral “Life is not fair.  No it is not.  When seen by the eyes of Eternity, it is not fair. It is perfect.”

As we knelt in prayer with this incredible family Josh’s father tenderly related “When we told the kids we gathered like this.  We sang “Families Can Be Together Forever” and said a prayer.” With tears he looked at us all and my heart nearly burst with sadness when he simply stated “I am so grateful that singing and praying together is something that is familiar to us”.  Gently reminding me that it is those small and simple daily things that you do with your family that binds them to you in times of distress.

My heart is still breaking, my mind is still reeling with the magnitude of this all, but somehow, in the quiet echo’s of my heart, I holding on to that idea.  It may not be fair, but it is perfect.  Why?  Because our Savior who is in heaven is perfect, and because “He live, We shall live also”.

Josh Burton-his younger brother’s hero
My farm, Outdoors, Ponderings, Uncategorized

To Love Is To Loss

two cows feedings“Mommy” a choked voice calls on the phone ” the baby calf-she is dead”.  I hear the word and my heart sinks “Are you sure?” I ask hoping that somehow he is wrong, but as I hear my oldest son sobbing on the phone, I know the answer.  I feel a sense of grief sweep over me.  Bottle Feeding CalfCould I have prevented this death?  I don’t think I could have.  I did the best I could, but something inside me feels guilty.  If only I had not have been so sick this week. If only it had not rained so much.  If only I had of tried just a little harder. . .  Those ‘if only swirl in my brain’ as I try to comfort my son “It’s okay, we knew she was sick. I will come home  and get Daddy to take care of her”.  I am instantly grateful to have a man at my side to strengthen me.  I know that my husband, unfamiliar with animals and death, does not want to have to figure out what to do with a dead calf, but he sees my tears and immediately tries to figure out what to do. At home I gather my littlest girl on my lap as she cries over and over, “Mommy why did the baby cow die?” while my other kids solemnly look on.  I had only had that calf for a month, but yet my heart is torn.  Last night, as I dried my daughters tears and my own, I was devastated and honestly didn’t know how I could continue to live my dream of being self-sufficient.  I know that if you have livestock, you always need to be prepared for deadstock, but seriously how do you prepare for the death of a loved one-even an animal?  “Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die.” (D&C 42:45.)chickens

This morning I feel better. I look at my two healthy calves, three dogs, hernia ridden goat and twenty-eight chickens with hope.  I know, that as much as I want to numb myself to loss and pain, to do so would be deadly, for you cannot selectively numb emotion.  You can’t say, here’s the bad stuff.  Here’s vulnerability, here’s grief, here’s shame, here’s fear, here’s disappointment.  I don’t want to feel these. . . . .You can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects, our emotions.  You cannot selectively numb.  So when you we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then we miserable. . .” I know I have to continue on with this.  I know there honestly were some things I could have done better for my calf, but I have to let go. I have to realize that I will make mistakes, many mistakes, but as long as I work hard to be grateful the journey will be worth it. “The only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life“.  (Russell M. Nelson)

Children, Family Fun, Ponderings, Uncategorized

Raising the Perfect Family by Denna

flowers girls Families can have a profound effect for good in the world.

Ezra t Benson, The family is the cornerstone of civilization and no nation will rise above the caliber of its homes.

Mother Teresa asks “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”

Neal a Maxwell said:

Good home are still the best source of good humans.  The greatest leaders and humanitarians will often say that their upbringing was the catalysis for their good works.zin flowers

As a young girl I thought I had foolproof plan to have a perfect family.   Serve a mission, graduate from a church school, marry a returned missionary in the temple, have lots of children and live an enchanted life. We began our family and life seemed idyllic, until, our first child turned two.  Suddenly the dreams I had of raising flawless children without a hair out of place seemed unlikely.

After years of workshops, classes, tons of parenting books, and a few more children …I found the secret…there is no such thing as an absolutely perfect family.

That being said, I know there is a process that advances the progress of the family towards successgirl flowers

There is hardly a church meeting that goes by without mention of the many things we can do to strengthen this precious unit.  Each of us is a member of a family, we may have different roles at this time yet all can benefit by working to improve it as a whole.e picking flowers

Patricia P. Pinegar said:

Parenting is a godly responsibility necessary for the salvation of Father’s children and important for our preparation for eternal blessings. Rejoice in your opportunities to love and care for the souls of children. Our Father has blessings and eternal rewards available for each of His children, whether they are married or single, parents or childless. Our circumstances may be different, our opportunities may be varied, but the end result of our righteousness can be the same—eternal parenthood, eternal lives.sisters sunflowers

It would seem that every gospel topic contributes significantly to the success of family life.

I asked my children what had been the most important principle in developing a testimony of Jesus Christ,  I’d like to share a few of their answers.

One child said, developing a conviction on their own, bearing testimony of it often and asking inspired questions that help reflect the true belief.  Can you tell he is a missionary?Papa sunflowers

It is an act of faith as parents begin to make the change from leading children in righteousness to encouraging them to walk in their own light, yet it strengthens and encourages growth and a continued quest for truth.  Asking the right question leads to superior understanding.girls sunflowers

I attended a women’s conference where the presenter was one of Elder Eyrings daughters.  She told us that each morning right before school the family would gather for breakfast and Elder Eyring would ask everyone in the family what experience from the day before indicated the hand of God in their life.  They would each share, go off to school with those testimonies in their hearts and be looking  for more proof of His love.  Can you imagine how that effected their  personal growth?  Each time we see evidence of God in our life it increases our capacity to identify and perceive Him where we couldn’t before.tia flowersss

Our daughter said that her testimony has been strengthened by being around good examples and being exposed to people who believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  On a Church sponsored website mormonfamily.net it states that we teach religious values,

“By example and by open teaching.  We should take our children to church with us, but that shouldn’t be the only time we talk about God.  We should share our deep religious feelings with our children, read the scriptures with them, and be interested in what they think and feel about what they read.  And we should act as examples to our children in obeying the commandments.”

Eleanor Roosevelt said: If you can give your children a trust in God, they will have a sure way of meeting all the uncertainties of existence.bevy flowers

Enos shares how his father’s example influenced him,

1 Behold, it came to pass that I, Enos, knowing my father that he was a just man—for he taught me in his language, and also in the nature and admonition of the Lord—and blessed be the name of my God for it—

 3 Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.

Jacob was a powerful model to Enos,  as he remember his father example, and followed it he was blessed .

When I asked my youngest boy what helped him to have a testimony, he said my older brothers and sister!K flowers

I smiled inwardly at this sweet response and asked him to explain a little more not thinking he understood my question.  He said, his older siblings teach him about Jesus, answer his questions and they can also get things from up high.

As I thought about his feelings I was humbled to recognize that each of us has an Elder Brother who teaches us, provides the ultimate answers to our questions and who provided a way in which we may be lifted up to great heights.

Consider if you will what Linda K Burton of the General Relief Society says, Three principles of the Atonement that will increase our faith in Jesus Christana flowers

1. All that is unfair about life can be made right through he Atonement.

2. There is power in the Atonement to enable us to overcome the natural man or woman and become true disciples.

3. The Atonement is the greatest evidence we have of the Father’s love for his children.

In addition to these wonderful points we can draw great strength from the power of prayer.

eno sunflowerIt has provided a constant source of guidance and comfort which has been vital in reinforcing gospel principles at home.  As we go to our knees with soul searching questions regarding children and home, each petition to the Lord draws us closer to Him and understanding his will.  Prayer is a powerful tool, I will often listen to the prayers of my children to understand their hearts.  As I hear them I can sense where their spiritual development, if they are growing a deep relationship our Heavenly Father or if they are in need of encouragement to pause and focus on what matters most.e sunflowers

In a similar vein you can teach important truths while on bended knee as we ask in faith for particular blessings for each of the children by name.  We started doing this, years ago and I smile as they now do this for each other in our family prayer.  It is touching to see children who were squabbling moments before to humbly ask for specific blessings on behalf of their brother or sister.

There have been moments in our family where a child is not interested in council from us, they have however never refused when I knock on their door with a bowl of ice cream, as I insist we ask for a blessing over the ice cream I then take that opportunity to ask our Father in Heaven to help them to understand specifics of the particular principle, essentially teaching lesson they didn’t want to hear.

I love our family and consider them a great treasure, there are however those times when even with our best effort and sincere prayer it seems nothing goes right, or yields the results we’d hoped for.sunflowers 1

It has been on bended knee usually in tears that our sweet Father reminds me that, I too am a child, His child.  This cue causes me to reflect inward, to feel sorrow for the times that I didn’t listen or obey, to recognize that I too have caused pain. Suddenly I understand Him better because of my role a parent.  He is all loving, His continued patience and faith in us teaches me to be strong in the face of serious times.

God’s love is strong and deep, more powerful than we can comprehend.kids sunflowerss

Richard G Scott offers some advice to those who love a family member who is not making good choices, he said,

That can challenge our patience and endurance. We need to trust in the Lord and in His timing that a positive response to our prayers and rescue efforts can occur. We do all that we can to serve, to bless, and to submissively acknowledge God’s will in all things. We exercise faith and remember that there are some things that must be left to the Lord. He invites us to set our burdens down at His feet. With faith we can know that this straying loved one is not abandoned but is in the watch care of a loving Savior.  

“‘No other success can compensate for failure in the home. … The poorest shack … in which love prevails over a united family is of greater value to God and future humanity than [any other riches]. In such a home God can work miracles and will work miracles. … Pure hearts in a pure home are always in whispering distance of Heaven’”  DAVID O MCKAYflowers girlss

There is a perfect plan for strong, beautiful families; it does not involve a check list of accomplishments but a simple implementation of precious eternal principles.ana sunny