“We are all in this together. We need each other. Oh, how we need each other.”

(Marjorie Pay Hinckley)


Long overdue honest social media.

"My heart aches for my son and the choices he faces..."

"I have thought a lot about the lives that our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) children are faced with. 

"I realized there is so much we just don't understand. I don't think it is as simple as ‘just keep your covenants’ as many will profess.

"My heart aches for my son and the choices he faces. Will he ever marry and have the companionship of a spouse? Will he be able to be a father? Will people love and be kind to him, or treat him with disdain and scorn? Will he have to worry about his family having to choose between him and and others? What about the eternities? Will he be denied that because of who he is? Does he know how wonderful he is? Does he see the value he holds in the Lord’s eyes? How does it feel to have the church you grew up with not accept you, and worse yet condemn you?

"As moms we want to protect and help our children, but I find myself feeling very helpless at times. A friend introduced me to a song by Mark Shultz; it came at a time when I really needed to hear its message. Take a listen and then I'll tell you a little more about my experience.

[For some reason this youtube video is not showing on mobile phones. So sorry. Can be viewed on PCs.]




"I became familiar with this song and loved its message, but I will never forget the time I attended a Time out for Women conference a couple of years ago when one of the musical artists was Dallyn Bayles. As he came out on stage and began to sing, I immediately recognized the music.

"Yes, it was Mark Schultz’s, “He's My Son.” In the very moment the lyrics, "Can you hear me? Am I getting through tonight?” rang in my ears, I heard in my heart the response, “Yes, I hear you. I am aware and I am here." Needless to say I sobbed through the rest of the song. I realized my Heavenly Father knew the prayer of my heart—that I was concerned for my son—and He answered me in such a way as I could not deny it.

"Now if you know much about music, you know that it is not always a simple task to take someone else song and sing it in a live performance. You have to obtain rights, pay royalties and so forth, and it usually takes a long time.  The ground work for this answer for me was laid long before that night I would sit in that auditorium. Through his performance, Mr. Bayles brought an answer to prayer in a very familiar way for me. Many of my prayers have been answered through music, but none quite as powerful as  this. 

"This song helps remind me that sometimes I just have to turn it over to the Lord, as He is my son’s Father first. It comforts a mother’s aching heart for her child.

"No, It is not the solution to the problems of this mortal life, but it was an answer of comfort that our Heavenly Father loves ME—that He loves all of us. He  loves our children, just as they are. He understands and will give us comfort and guidance as we seek it. 

"If I could take this trial away from my son I would, but we would not be the family we are today because we have been blessed to have him in our family. We have been blessed to have our eyes and hearts opened to so many others just like him, who are beautiful children of God."

"I feel like I don't know who I am anymore..."

"Ever since I was little I've always wanted to be a mom. I have 2 amazing kids, and another on the way, and I feel like I don't know who I am anymore. 

"I have all these ambitions and dreams and things I want to do but I also have kids...and a husband...and they all need me, like, ALL the time! Not that I don't love them tremendously with all of my heart, but I feel like I got lost along the way. And now there's no time for me to be me. And no money for me to do what I want to do because of the necessities a family requires. And on top of all that I don't even know what I want anymore because I have no time to figure it out! I'm talking about things I love to do, like hobbies and passions that drive a person to be a better person. Things that make me want to wake up the next day and live my life all over again.

"Having a family is hard. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't give them up for ANYTHING. But when do I get to feel like me again? When am I not going to feel like I'm being pulled in a thousand different directions between family and church and just have time for myself? When do I get to find my own motivation for loving life again?"

"I’ve lost many, many people in my life. ..."

"I’ve lost many, many people in my life.  My parents both passed away from multiple forms of cancer.  My sister passed away in a tragic car accident a month after I married my boyfriend.  My niece and my nephew (brother and sister) were also in a car accident and both lost their lives.  I am acquainted with death and loss of a loved one.  The gospel was something I used to pull me through each and every one of these losses.  I felt my family members very close to me though they are mere spirits.  I felt comforted. Surrounded.

"Then, two years ago, my sweet husband, Terry, passed away.  It was a shocking loss for our family.  Devastating.  Pure Hell.  I have trudged through the past two years.  I never know what is 'normal' for a 50 year old widow.   But I’ve kept breathing and making my time on this earth into some sort of sense without the man I love.

"Which brings me to my confession.  I’m a little hurt.  No A LOT hurt, that I don’t feel Terry near me.  At least not like I did with my parents and sister. I wake up each morning and he is the first thing I think about.  I go through my day looking for him in places I will never find or feel him.  He is the final thought on my mind when I lay my head on my pillow each night yearning to dream of him…

"I never do.


"This has been a 'game-changer' for me.  It makes me question everything I once was taught and believed.  I want to shake the people who tell me 'Oh ,Tami.  Terry came to me in a dream and told me to check in on you.'  or 'I know this is hard to believe but Terry appeared to me and I know he’s okay.' (BS if you ask me.)   I would just like to know why I can’t feel my husband near by.  He was MY husband…not theirs.  Why do other people 'get' to stand so close to the veil, when I have to plead through a heavy, thick, black velvet drapery for some mere morsel of the man I loved so deeply?"

"A recent Relief Society lesson really resonated with me...."

"A recent Relief Society lesson really resonated with me. We were discussing the differences in personality between Hyrum and Joseph Smith. 

"The teacher asked us what we could learn from how different these two brothers and church leaders were. The answer hit me hard. They were both such vital instruments in the hands of the Lord in restoring the gospel and leading a young church. The Lord utilized their differences to build the kingdom. 

"I realized that our differences in the church, especially among women, is what makes things more interesting and in a sense, more complete. I want to embrace and learn from women who are different than me, and in so doing gain understanding and empathy from their personalities and experiences. I want to be more complete."

"Being the bishop's wife . . ."

"Being the bishop’s wife can be a LOVELY experience and I am more than happy to share my husband with our ward family. However, being the bishop’s wife can be a very LONELY experience as well. Bishop knows everything. Bishop’s wife knows nothing. Ward members may hesitate to talk with me, thinking I know the intimate details of their lives, but they need to understand I know absolutely nothing. 

"The personal husband/wife conversations we have are often stopped abruptly because we can’t discuss ANYONE in our ward. When he comes home from meetings with ward members, all I can ask is, ‘How did your visits go?’ He replies with a, ‘Good,” or, ‘Really well,’ and then the conversation ends. Though he is quiet,  I can clearly see the burdens he carries and how he struggles to know how to help those he meets with. 


"I don’t want to come across as ‘poor me—my husband is the bishop’ because I feel completely the opposite. What I really want to say is that a bishop’s wife is grateful her husband can serve the ward in this way (let’s be honest, he wouldn’t be called to serve as bishop if his wife didn’t support him). I love and support the ward members and want to be involved. The ward needs to trust that even though I may know where he is, I have no idea what’s being said, who he’s meeting with, or why.  And although I know nothing, I have been given the merciful gift of genuine love for each member of the ward.

Mothers Have a Voice.

Fifteen amazing ladies and I will share thoughts about motherhood. You will laugh, cry, and be glad you came.

Thinking of you, ladies.

THIS RESOURCE might be of help to some of my readers. Check it out.

Let's be real,
Sue

"A shadow once held me captive...."


"This is a deeply personal post, and has been written, erased and rewritten countless times. The amount of courage I'm trying to gather in publicly speaking on this topic cannot be underlined enough. I realize the nature of blogs and the unending, far reaching consequences of emotionally stripping yourself to the masses. 

"We each know of a friend, a family member...but rarely (if at all) do people speak about their own fears, failures and struggles. Only after we've conquered our personal Mt. Everests do we lend our advice. But this isn't about conquering. This is about living. It's about being in the trenches - in the most literal and figurative sense. I'm caked in mud and covering my ears from the onslaught of guns - and I'm here. We're in this battle together.


The Lion and The Lamb

"My phone beeped with the tracking alert - my package had arrived. The rest of the day blurred until I stood on my doorstep facing the package. It sat there, innocent and unassuming. I stabbed the box with my keys and ripped open the outer shipping box. Wiping the tears away I gingerly pulled the statue from its cocoon. In cultured marble a lamb was delicately carved next to a powerful lion. I cradled the figure in my arms and walked inside, leaving the cardboard remnants behind.
 
"I traced the lion's mane and wept. I cried for every hope, fear and failure this statue represented.

"A shadow once held me captive. I had lived with it since I was nine years old. It interrupted my sleep one night, and never left. The shadow lived inside me and stole my voice. It clouded my mind and sucked the very joy from my soul. Twelve years ago, as a college student, I was suffocating in the thoughts of my perceived failure. 
I was imploding from within - and no one knew. The shadow was my secret. It was kept under the bed, in the closet and in the back of my heart where no one would reach.

"And then one night, I curled under my covers and prayed for the pain to be gone. The hurt was a gaping hole in my chest. I had sought refuge in church service, scripture study, pleading prayer and even prescription medication. But the hole never shrank. Instead it grew as I redoubled my efforts to conceal the shadow and its power. 

"I watched every minute pass that night in slow, agonizing seconds. I wished the hurt would stop. Even if it included my life. In the pit of my isolation, I wondered if the sun would rise. Would hope become a forgotten companion? Morning came - hope did not.

"But help did.

"The exhaustion from hiding the shadow had taken its toll on my personality and relationships. There was only one person left at my side - with the talent of a sharp tongue and even more lethal pen, I had chased away family and friends. Then promptly built a fortress so deep and so high that only a shadow could thrive in the cold, sunless heart.

"But one person didn't give up. With a tear in his eye and an arm around my shoulder, my childhood friend guided me that morning to a counselor. As I entered the room, I noticed a painting. It was a lamb nestled next to a lion. It promised peace between the rage of a powerful predator and the tender soul of the prey. That day I received a promise, that one day the lion would rest with the lamb.

"I healed enough to graduate, marry and devote myself to three beautiful girls. But my lion has not made peace with the lamb.

"Depression is not just a mental illness. It is a physical one. It depletes the body and murders its host. It's a cancer of the soul imbedded in my genes. Even with strict adherence to antidepressants (exercise, diet, social and intellectual stimulation...) and avoidance of triggers (isolation, silence, too much social stimulation, lack of exercise...) the shadow can still threaten my joy.

"I am in the trenches. My hands are sticky with the shadow's blood. I have fought for every inch, every gain against the enemy - and damn it, I'm still here. Though there are seemingly endless nights, I am still here. Life is good. But sometimes my perspective is not.
There are moments of peace. There are moments of pain. But the shadow has not won. As my husband says with a chuckle, I'm too damn stubborn to stay down for long.

"Depression is so very real. So is the stigma attached to the disease. I am convinced of my weakness and failure when the shadow is strong. I cannot see my own worth, regardless of my religious conviction. People don't talk about this. Most people assume the illness is for the weak-willed or the effect of a guilty conscience. But those of us who struggle are in the company of giants. George Albert Smith, a pillar of spiritual leadership suffered so desperately from the tyranny of depression that he begged his maker to take him homeThe shadow bound him to his bed for three years - and yet he was a leader of a church and would continue to do so for several more years. He was not weak. And neither am I. Winston Churchill attacked his shadow during, and after, World War II. Charles Dickens, William Faulkner, Vincent van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, Abraham Lincoln, Michelangelo, Isaac Newton...

"I will stumble. I will fall. And I will get back up. Again and again. Can I do it alone - absolutely not. 

"I have a team of devoted soldiers that are crazy enough to stay at my side and pull me from those trenches long enough to see the sun shining through the clouds. A husband of herculean strength along with loving and loyal parents, a counselor and a slew of tender friends make even the darkest shadow shrink back in fear.

"Do I laugh - why, yes. Yes, I do.

My natural temperament is not morose. Life is something I quite enjoy feasting upon. Joy is something I find in gardening, running, writing, reading, my children, learning...

"Life is profoundly good. It is oh so hard at times. But life is good.  And one day, my lion will slumber lazily next to the lamb. Until then, I am here. I am fighting. And if you're battling the same unseen enemy listen to these four words. Do. Not. Give. Up.

"You are worth this war.

"You are not weak.

"Hold my hand, let's do this."

CALL FOR ENTRIES

Real Life Mormon Women accomplishes a lot of good. Help it continue. If you've felt the urge to share, please do! You say you're not a writer? No problem! I am. I have worked with ladies who have the desire to share, but have a hard time putting it on "paper." I am more than happy to work with you to produce a product that adequately expresses your feelings.

And remember, I welcome anonymous posts, and honor them.

We gain strength by sharing and realizing that "someone else feels the same way I do!"


I'm asking for honest answers to any of the following questions:

* Something you would change (in yourself, or others, or the world, or anything else for that matter).

* A lesson you've recently learned.

* A struggle.

* A victory.

Email your answers to:
suepete@mac.com

Let's be real,
Sue

"We have been trying to have another baby..."

"We have been trying to have another baby for a really long time, like years now. Some days I deal fine with other people's baby news, then there are other days—days when I hear someone has fallen pregnant unexpectedly and is annoyed by such an 'inconvenience.' This sends me scurrying to look for General Conference quotes to get me through without my turning snarky and feeling hard done by. I truly understand we each have our own unique trials; the startling difference between she who has but doesn't want, and my pleading with God to fill my belly, is stark yet plain. 

"I know we’ll have a baby come to us, God has promised me that. Like Joseph Smith I know it and cannot deny it. Not knowing when sufficient time has passed on God’s calendar is the current challenge. Smiling for others, buying shower and new baby gifts, and sympathizing with all the aches and pains of friend's pregnancies can take their toll on me emotionally. Please don't misunderstand;  this doesn't mean that I can't empathise and feel happiness for others, just that there are some days when it's harder to wrap up that tiny onesie and give it away. I'd rather take it clean from the washing line and tuck it into a drawer in readiness.

"However I won’t be beaten into twisted bitterness by jealousy, sadness, my fleeting assumed injustice, or other peoples perky, 'Oh it hasn’t happened for you yet? Oh well keep trying!' *wink* comments. I’ll remain faithful and run for those General Conference quotes whenever I need to so I can hold my chin parallel to the ground and endure this well. 

"I know my Heavenly Mother must surely be near lifting my chin a little with her soft hand, whispering comfort and faith to my spirit while I slumber. And I trust she is ushering the fresh spirit of our baby through it’s preparations to come and join us at some future time, born into the covenant, never to be parted again."


"...I became victorious over..."

"A victory? I can say I became victorious over blaming my husband for the trials we have gone through. In the technical aspect, yes, we went through things because of him, but I have quit pitying him. I have let it go so I can move on and just love him."

"I was having a particularly hard day..."

"I was having a particularly hard day when my children were younger. I was discouraged. I couldn't keep up with the laundry, the dishes, the cleaning—everything just seemed to be caving in around me. Ok, I had many hard days.

"Often, when I had/have days like that, I pray. I consider God to be one of my best friends. He is my dad. He is the dad of my spirit and I love Him. I learned early that He understands me. He understands my heart. He is there when no one else is. Often when I needed to cry, I would cry in the shower. It became a cleansing time for me, in more ways than one. I always start an open-ended prayer for the day there as well.

"Over the years, my open-ended prayer has lasted throughout the day. Just when I needed extra help, I learned to just start talking in my head.'Ok Heavenly Father, I really need your help....' 'Please help me get through this phone call...' 'Are you still there?'

"This particular day in question, I had started that morning with my usual prayer in the shower. I found myself starting to sing that Primary song in my head,'Heavenly Father, are you really there?' I got a big smile on my heart and changed the next line, 'Do you hear and answer every Mother's prayer,' and then continued singing OUT LOUD the rest of the song, 'Some say that Heaven is far away...'

"Throughout the day, as struggles happened and I was waning with how to emotionally hold up, that song popped back in my head. Then the clincher happened that has changed my outlook forever. The TV was on in the other room and I heard that annoying beep, beep, beep come across, and the words, 'This is a test, it is only a test.' But IMMEDIATELY, the words went into my mind: 'This LIFE is a test, it is only a test.'

"Two miracles happened that day that changed my outlook forever.  Now, whenever I hear the song, 'A Child's Prayer,' or that annoying beeping, I remember back to the day that a loving Heavenly Father helped change my life. No longer do I hear the beeping as annoying, but rather a 'tapping and a smile from Heavenly Father,' reminding me I am simply taking a test to see if I learned what He taught me before I came to earth.  He is the best Dad out there."

"I finally feel as though I know myself."

"I recently turned 33—and I embrace it! I finally feel as though I know myself. Not the self that others define and build expectations for, but a self that is flawed. One who genuinely doesn't care if others expectations are met, who accepts the faults and flaws and rejoices in the fact that we are all here to learn; and how can one learn without making mistakes? Taking chances? Hitting bottom and building back up? 

"I'll be me and you be you and let's just be there to help each other along the way. Not tear each other down to build our own ego. Not cast judgment when we have no right. It's taken me 33 years to finally begin to understand who I am, how to love and how to be happy. Here's to 33!"

"As I thumbed through photos..."


As I thumbed through photos in my iPhotos app this evening, and saw one beautiful, black and white, female headshot after another, I paused and considered what I was witnessing. Each face has a story behind it. Some happy stories, many sad. Some victorious, others still fighting the good fight. But all of them had one quality in common: honesty

I reflected on the courage these faces have shown. The pluckiness to uncover their venerability and throw it to the masses. I admire them all. Some are anonymous, and for good reason. Their identities are safely tucked away, and I will soon forget who said what. Some are already gone from my memory. I think this is a blessing for the souls who have trusted me with their soft underbellies. (That, or I'm old...)

As Real Life Mormon Women continues this journey, I hope others will find it within themselves to open up. In the short time RLMW has lived, connections have been made. Women are realizing there are others who feel the same way they do. No longer do they feel isolated in their struggles and opinions. That alone gives one the guts to gird up, tighten her laces, and keep pulling forward.


To all those black and white faces, thank you. I’m a better person because you held your breath and jumped. 

"...my daughter was diagnosed with a rare chromosome disorder..."

"For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with some level of anxiety, but have felt it was something I could manage."  

"Then three years ago, my daughter was diagnosed with a rare chromosome disorder. Because of her diagnosis we deal with developmental delays and never ending health issues with her.  Her chromosome disorder was the cause of her developing cancer when she was 2, and will ultimately lead to more cancer (among other things) later in life.  

"Because of this, or at least mainly because of this, I feel like I am constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.  My anxiety has gone to levels I never thought it could.  I have developed fears and anxieties over things I had never even given thought to ever before.  It is something I am trying to get a grip on, but it's not easy.

"I struggle when people tell me to 'Just have faith! Everything will work out!'  Having faith is not the issue.  I have it.  Oh, do I ever.  But having faith does not mean everything will 'work out' so to speak.  Faith does not necessarily mean there will be an absence of trials.  Faith did not stop my daughter from getting cancer, it will not stop her from getting it again. It doesn't take the worry away, or the pain, or the wondering. Faith WILL, however, give me the courage and strength to get up and carry the burden that Heavenly Father has asked me to carry."  

"I've come to terms with the fact that I may not ever get married."

"I've come to terms with the fact that I may not ever get married. I come from a culture that teaches that the purpose of life is to marry; and together with your one true love, bring life into this world. Then to raise them up right and fill this world with righteous souls. That might not happen here. 

"Instead, I'll add my influence to the righteous souls of those around me.  That also means I'm on my own for home repairs, retirement, and weekend entertainment. I made jokes for the first 27 years of my life that I was looking for a man who was saving double in his 401(k)—some for me, some for him. But a couple years ago I scheduled an appointment with a financial guy to learn about Roth IRAs, mutual funds, and life insurance policies. I'd rather poke my eyes out with pencils than talk to strangers about my money, but as far as I knew, no one else was saving for my retirement, so I was on line to take care of it myself. 

"After every conversation (and there are many) when someone says, 'Your time will come,' or, 'Don't settle,' or, 'You'll get married; I just know it!"' I silently say to myself, 'It's okay if it doesn't happen.'" 

"Having a learning disability and struggling all through school ..."

"Yesterday I was at one of my children’s schools discussing my daughter's yearly assessment in the speech program, and how she has made leaps and bounds, all the while thinking to myself, 'Be careful how you communicate.' 

"Having a learning disability and struggling all through school has not made me confident when I am around those that I know have more education under their belt than myself. I felt then, and still do at times, that the moment I open my mouth I will come across as uneducated (especially when surrounded by a room full of people that are highly educated).

"This was something that was really hard for me as I served a full-time mission for the church, given some of my areas included universites and state colleges. This in no way has ever made my testimony waver; if anything it was strengthened. Knowing that I am a daughter of God, and having amazing parents that instilled in me the values of hard work and independence, has given me the knowledge that I can be successful in so many other ways. Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle, but I know that there is a purpose to everything. 

"You see, 1 of our 3 children has a learning disability. I may not be highly educated, but I actually know what she is going through and how she is feeling about school. I am able to teach her so many techniques that helped me through school 

"I know we all have struggles, whether they are open to others to see, or something that only we know of personally. I know that my mind works differently than other's, and that does not make me any less of a person. I know I learn things so differently than others, and can use that to my advantage, and help others as well."