The Best Last Words

I had a friend. I met her almost 38 years ago when Vaughn was in graduate school at the University of Tennessee. I can hardly remember not feeling like I had known her forever.

I would like to tell a lot about our friendship, but I won’t do that because the words aren’t there. She knows, and I know, so that is probably enough.

When we were only in our 40’s, and didn’t live close to each other anymore, I got a shocking call. My friend had died suddenly.

She was riding in the car with her daughter and felt like she couldn’t breathe. She asked to be taken to the hospital.

Shortly after they got there and got her in, she looked at her daughter, and she said “I love you. I love you all.”

And then she died.

I was thinking about this again a few nights ago. I have always thought those were the very best last words.

I know there have been profound and beautiful things that people have sometimes said just before they died. But to me, my friend’s last words are the best.

I am sure she knew she was about to die. Probably people often don’t know, or are not capable of talking just before they go.

If you are my friend or my family, no matter what I have said to you last, or whatever I do or don’t say just before I die, you can know that my wish is to say the same thing my friend did.

So, I hope you all know and remember that these are my current words to you, and also what I would want my last words to you to be:

I love you. I love you all. ❤️

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42 is a symbol of new chances and opportunities.

42 is the number of the exit you take off the highway to get to where we live.

42 is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.

42 is the number of years Vaughn and I have been married, and that is the most important meaning of 42 at this moment.

It was a miracle from the beginning.

I knew this very cute, skinny guy’s name. He was a theatre major at BYU, as was I. But his emphasis was directing and mine was acting. I had met him the very first time when a friend of mine told me she was doing an acting scene for class with this really cute guy, and that I should come and meet him (thanks Genia!).

When I saw him the first time he was lying on his back on one of the blocks in the acting room that we used to represent scenery. His head was hanging off the edge. I don’t think he even sat up when she introduced me to him.

So beyond knowing his name, and thinking he was younger than me because of his very youthful look, I knew nothing about him. But he was, at the moment of the first part of the miracle, in a Tech Theatre class with me, and he was sitting behind me next to a good friend of mine (thanks Jim).

As I turned around in my seat to talk to that friend, my eyes passed over Vaughn, and a very clear voice said in my head:

“That is who you are going to marry.”

I have to say that was a startling moment. I remember thinking “Where did that thought come from?” I now believe the Lord was making sure I did not mess up this incredible thing that needed to happen in my life.

I think it was within a year of that moment that we were married. It was the most important decision I have ever made.

Vaughn really had no idea what he was in for. But he has never ever made me feel that he has regretted it in any way.

Vaughn married a quite depressed and damaged person from events that had happened earlier in my life. He knew that to some extent, but no one truly knows what living with someone will be like until they do it.

I got pregnant within a couple months after we were married, and 29 weeks after that we had our son Anthony, and we lost our son Anthony.

Some months after that I had gotten pregnant again, and within a few months we had lost that baby. A few months after that I had gotten pregnant again, a third time, and we had also lost that baby.

Somewhere around that time Vaughn came home from work, and he found me huddled on the floor in our closet. He had no idea what to do, but for some reason he just came into that closet with me and held me.

And he has been holding me ever since.

That is not to say I have always been metaphorically huddled in a closet at all. But things have been rough enough, for a large part of the 42 years, that if I had not had Vaughn, I know I would not be sane (some might question whether I am 😊, but let’s assume it for the sake of this post), nor even be alive now.

We have had such beautiful times together. We are just best friends.

We have loved doing theatre together. We have acted together a few times. Quite a few times Vaughn has directed plays that I was in. I have made costumes and done make-up for plays he has directed. I have been the Stage Manager for plays he has directed. He has built sets, done lights and sound, and been the Technical Director for plays I have directed. We have had our children with us during rehearsals, while building sets, and occasionally in the plays or helping with the sets, too.

We are happiest when we can work together. Neither of us does well if we are apart for a long time.

We have had a lot of animals in our life. We love them. We had so much fun on our farm. We loved the animals and working with them together. I remember once going on a trip to get some sheep and llamas. I remember being out in the field choosing our sheep. So fun! I loved it when we had baby animals. We had a few years there where we got to do that, until I got really sick.

For the first approximately 25 years of our marriage I suffered from major serious clinical depression. I was miraculously healed from that during a blessing. Then maybe a couple years later, I got Lyme Disease. No one knew what was really wrong with me for 6 years. I was misdiagnosed with Fibromyalgia. I got sicker and sicker over those years, and it finally started to affect me neurologically. Finally I had a Lyme test and it was positive. Then many courses of antibiotics, which did not help and finally ended me up in the ER with what seemed like a heart attack. And it has been a long road from there, just trying to stay functional to some degree with varying treatments, all of which cost a lot of money and are almost all not covered by insurance.

During our marriage I have sometimes been fun, and lots of times not been fun. I have been fat, and thin, and in between. I have been depressed and not. I have been sick and almost bedridden, and other times able to pitchfork manure out of stalls every day, day after day.

When I have been fat, or thin, or in between, Vaughn told me how beautiful I was. When I have been sick, he has taken care of me. When I have been depressed he has comforted me. He had to learn not to get pulled into the depression, in order to be able to help me. He always told me he knew I would be healed from that. Now he tells me he knows I’ll be healed from being sick. I try my best to believe him.

He has defended me and comforted me when others have judged me. He has never criticized me.

We have both gotten degrees while we were married. We have had babies, lost babies, and adopted babies. We have mostly homeschooled, but have also sometimes sent kids to school. We have moved 7 or 8 times, a couple times across the country. Twice we have moved with no job to go to because the Lord told us to.

We have made all our big decisions together by praying and often fasting about what we should do. We have been extremely united. I consider that a blessing from God because we must have needed it to be that way.

When we have not been too tired from a play, or working late, or taking care of children, we have liked reading to each other at night. We have read funny books sometimes, but it has mostly been the scriptures and books of a theological and spiritual nature. We have studied many spiritual topics together all of our married life. And we love to talk about the gospel.

I do not know anyone with more faith than Vaughn. He has been devoted to the Lord all his life, and he has never wavered in that. He has also always been very much his own person and therefore always at least somewhat unorthodox amongst the religious culture we spent most of our lives in. He has never cared hardly at all what people think of him. I am not like that. Sometimes I would have been more “comfortable” if he would have conformed more. But I am so grateful he doesn’t do that.

We have always been in sync in our religious beliefs. That has been an immense blessing, especially during the last decade or so, when we have lost friends, whatever respect we might have had, the culture we had lived in most of our lives, and even material things like jobs, etc., to do what we believe is right and to follow the Lord. It has been hugely difficult, and at the same time so wonderful that I am grateful for it all everyday. So is Vaughn. What an amazing thing to go through together.

Some years ago an old student of ours came to visit. He told Vaughn that he learned how to be a good husband by watching how Vaughn treated me. I was not surprised.

I was thinking about what would epitomize how Vaughn treats me. I walked out of the bathroom a day or so ago and Vaughn was just standing there smiling huge at me. “What?” I said. “Just looking at your beauty, my Babe” he said. That happens so very often. And every time it heals my battered soul a little more.

I don’t think anyone in this world has ever been loved better than I have. The whole thing has been an extended miracle.

42 incredible years. I am infinitely grateful.

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A Conversation

The things that are going on now in the USA and in the world matter. I believe what is happening is very possibly the most huge thing in my lifetime. Maybe in 50 years people will not hardly remember this moment. We seem to have a very short memory sometimes. But I hope and pray that they will remember, and that good reform, understanding and empathy, peace, and love will have come from it. I won’t be here to see that, but hopefully my children, and grandchildren, and great grandchildren will be living in a much better world then. They will be able to see then what side of history I was on. I hope they can see I was on the side of love, even if I did not know how people and institutions can get there.

People’s voices and experiences are important. Because I believe that, I have tried on Facebook to post some people’s voices. I have often been misunderstood merely for posting an article. And I am sure I have been blocked and de-friended by some people, too. Perhaps this post will offend everyone I know on all sides of the issues, but I hope not.

I have not commented much at all on most of the Facebook posts or articles I have put up the past few weeks, because I was just trying to put voices out there. But there has to be conversation. When we live in an echo chamber, or say things that shut down other’s experiences and concerns, then we cannot change. We cannot empathize. We cannot fully love our neighbor.

It is time to mourn with those who mourn. It is time to comfort those who stand in need of comfort. It is time to be uncomfortable ourselves in order to do those things. It is not a time to invalidate other people’s experiences by saying ours are not the same.

If we do not listen and believe and have empathy for each other’s experiences, nothing will ever get better. And things have to get better.

This blog is just my voice, and experiences, and thoughts. Much of how I think and feel about what is going on in the world now is because of the things my children have suffered. I want people to listen, and strive for change, for their sake.

For those of you who don’t know me, to give you some context for where I am coming from: I am a white woman. I am 62 years old. I have been married to a white man for almost 42 years. We have black children, and we have white children. I was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 41 years. I believe a lot of the same theological stuff still, but it is too long to explain all of that here now.

When I was 3 years old my Mom was listening to me talk to our black friend, Pearl, in another room. She was older than my Mom, I believe. I loved Pearl.

My Mom heard me ask Pearl why my skin was a different color than her skin. My Mom said she was very embarrassed that I had asked Pearl that question. But it didn’t seem to bother Pearl, and Mom heard her explain to me that God made people with all different colors of skin, and that it didn’t matter what color your skin was.

I don’t remember that incident, but I am sure it shaped my early view on race. I do remember that until I moved to Florida and was in Jr. High School, I hadn’t realized that it really mattered to many people what color someone’s skin was. Until Jr. High, I didn’t know very many black people, but those I did, I loved, and they loved me.

In Florida at that time, when I was in Jr. High and High School, I remember busing being a huge issue. We lived in St. Petersburg, and the “black” and “white” sections of town were extremely divided geographically, so children were being bused far to school in order to integrate the schools. It was a huge controversy that as a child I didn’t understand all the ramifications of very well. But I think that was a big part of why I began to realize that people cared what color people were.

In High School we actually had “race riots” at school. My friends and I weren’t directly involved, and we thought it was terrible that we couldn’t all just love each other. I was very naive to all the underlying problems. I am just recently realizing how woefully inadequate my education was as far as Black History, and even just general American History. There are so many things I have only known about in the past few years, and some even only in the past few days!

At some point during the “race riots” in High School, they canceled school for some time, but I remember one very scary experience before that. Most of the halls at this school were actually open air halls, really just sidewalks along the sides of the buildings. But one building was enclosed and there were glass doors at the end of the building. I was in class in that building, and our classroom door was locked. We were all quiet because we could hear the rioting going on in other parts of the school. At one point we heard the glass door at the end of the hall break, and our teacher said “If they come in here, I won’t be able to do anything.” That was a chilling moment. They passed by our classroom and didn’t come in. I have no idea if it was one of the black groups of kids, or one of the white groups. I was scared either way. But I had the sense that it was the white racist kids’ fault that this was happening. Back then what we were worried about was being beaten up. Nowadays we would have had to worry about being gunned down, but that’s a different conversation.

Before Vaughn and I got married we talked about wanting to adopt children. We had no idea I would have any problems getting pregnant and carrying a pregnancy, but we wanted to adopt anyway. I did end up having terrible problems with pregnancy because of a prescribed drug my Mom took when she was pregnant with me which cause uterine deformities in me. We had two biological preemies, one of whom lived, and we adopted 6 other children. Of our adopted children one was white, and the others were children of color.

Before I go on, I want to say that we lost two of our children. Some people who know us know about this, and some don’t. But I have mentioned them in the numbers of our children, so people who don’t know the story will wonder. They were adopted at an older age, not as babies like the others. They had already experienced terrible things. Their early lives were absolutely affected in immense ways by the things that happen to people because of systemic racism. Their lives with us were affected by our not completely knowing about, nor understanding, the damage they had suffered, and by our naive belief that love alone can fix most anything. They did things that made them a danger to the other children, and as soon as the system became involved (through us calling them for help, and because we were legally required to), things quickly became a mess and totally taken out of our hands. Finally, all that we were allowed to do was let them go, to give them a chance to have another family before they were too old. It was the worst thing that ever happened in my life. Imagining the harm caused to them by the whole thing is horrifying to me. I know they have had many struggles since. I do not ever blame them for anything that they did as children. I pray they are happy.

I thought I knew a lot about adopting children of a different race than me. I had read several books about it. I had books for children about it. Vaughn and I taught a class for the LDS Church about adoption in general, with part of the class being about adopting transracially. We were experts, right? It was easy, right?

Well, as far as the race issue goes, at home it was easy. To us, they were just all our children, and all beautiful. We were not “colorblind.” We just loved them all.

Oftentimes I would be at the store with some or all of my children, and I would notice someone staring at me a lot. Almost every time I would first think “Do I know them from somewhere?” And then I would realize they were actually probably staring because I was a white woman with black children. Most of the time the stares seemed to me to be just curious. Occasionally the stares didn’t seem very happy about what they saw. But it was always white people that I remember staring. Black people would always smile at us, if they noticed us at all. Fairly often black people would come up and say hello to us, too. They would talk to the kids, and they were always friendly and kind. I don’t ever remember white people coming up and talking to us like that. I felt emotionally safer with black people when I was out amongst strangers with my children.

With white acquaintances or white people I knew, they would often say to me what wonderful people we were to adopt these kids. I wonder if they would have said that if all our children were white? I always felt they were trying to be kind, but I also was always somewhat upset when they would say it. It seemed a judgement on our children in some way. And also, it just wasn’t true. We adopted our children because we wanted children! Not because we were some great, altruistic people. I did want to be a great, altruistic person. I did want to be a great Mom and help all my children. But that is not why we have our children. It was actually in some ways a selfish thing. I wanted children desperately. I always have. When I was little I wanted to have 12 children. I love them. It is about love. It is about being a Mom. It is not about being “charitable.”

For a long time I was surprised by what I thought was the low level of racism our family and kids were experiencing compared to what I had thought would happen. That was mostly when they were quite young. People are mostly fine with cute little kids. They are not so fine when those cute little kids become teens.

It has also only been in the last few years that I have found out many things that were happening behind the scenes. My kids have sometimes purposefully kept things from me, in order not to hurt me, and sometimes to keep me from causing a scene. Also, sometimes it was to keep from giving people more “reasons” to not like them. I wish I had caused some more scenes, though.

I have also been reminded of many things that happened years ago. Sometimes when things happened involving friends, I would not confront the issue hardly at all. I would chalk it up to ignorance, and overlook it to a great degree because of their other kind qualities. And it was almost always friends who were LDS like me. It’s important to be polite when you are LDS. When almost all your friends are in your ward, it is emotionally hard to do something that might alienate them.

I am just going to put a few of the other experiences my children and I have had:

It was our first Sunday in a new branch (like a small ward, or Church congregation). We were in Gospel Doctrine class and the first thing the teacher did was tell a racist joke. I was stunned. I didn’t say anything.

I parked right in front of a convenience store and gave my two black daughters some money to go in and get a candy bar while I watched them from the car. I told them to hold hands. They held hands, chose their candy, and went to pay. The cashier guy said “We usually don’t serve n____r’s here, but you are cute little n____r’s, so I’ll let you buy this.” They didn’t know what the “n” word meant, so they weren’t upset until much later when they realized. They also didn’t tell me then. It almost makes me faint when I think about the danger I put them in.

My black son’s white friends at Church (there were no other black children anywhere close to his age at Church except his siblings) would often tell racist jokes when he was out with them. They would use the “n” word sometimes. He told me recently that he would usually laugh along with them because he was young, and because he figured they were just joking, but sometimes it made him feel really badly.

That same son of ours knew that one of his friend’s Dad had a stick or bat behind his door that he called his “N____r Knocker.”

I was told by a friend at Church that people should not date those of another race. I was really shocked. I said something like “What am I supposed to tell my children? That they can’t date someone who looks like their siblings?” I think I also talked about that actually NOT being the doctrine of the Church any more, but it is hard to prove that when so many racist comments have been made by so many leaders.

Our teenage white daughter was very good friends with a black teenage boy at Church. He was the only member of his family who came to Church. The only black people at Church in that ward were him and our black children. We often took him to Church meetings. We all really liked him, and were happy to have our daughter be friends with him, or date him. I have realized now that apparently there was a lot of “talk” behind our backs about how the relationship was not good. I just found out a few days ago (although this happened in the late 1990’s), that the black teenager was called in alone by the Bishop and told that he needed to find someone to date who was his own color. We were not talked to about this by the Bishop at all. A black person, who was still a child, was called in without a family member, or anyone, and made to feel terrible.

A white girl at Church and our black son liked each other a lot and wanted to date. She was a really nice girl. We loved the whole family. But she called our son one day crying because her parents told her that she couldn’t date him because their family didn’t do the “mixing races” thing.

Another white girl in our Stake (a group of congregations in the LDS Church) liked our black son. They wanted to date. Her parents were very concerned about this. They took previous statements by Church leaders about black people and white people not “mixing” to the Stake President and asked him what to do. Apparently he tried to avoid problems, and told them that it should be more about the families involved, but that it really wasn’t wrong, I think. Apparently they decided to let her, if she would date other people in between every date with our son. But it never happened, and I don’t remember why.

This incident is not about our children, but my husband was a Theatre professor at a university. He was directing a play, and in it a black and a white person kissed. Several board members came to the President of the university and complained. They said they didn’t want to see that stuff on stage at that university, and they wanted Vaughn either fired or not allowed to direct anymore. The President told Vaughn about it, and said it didn’t bother her, but she was letting him know. At some point after that Vaughn was removed from directing, but there were other reasons given, because the previous department head came back to the department to direct again, so we don’t know the actual reason for sure, but suspect that was at least part of it.

When we moved to Utah, we thought there would be less racism. We were wrong.

When my children would be walking on the street with a group of friends who were almost all white, sometimes the cops would drive up and ask what they were doing. Then they would have the kids of color turn their pockets out, but not the white kids.

When our two youngest children were at high school, kids would often call them the “n” word (one daughter said she heard it at least once a week). Even teachers would also use the “n” word. My one daughter’s seminary teacher used the “n” word in class, although he did not call her that directly. And kids would walk by our daughters and say “If it ain’t white, it ain’t right.”

They would write “If it ain’t white, it ain’t right” on the white board before my daughter would come into the classroom. They also wrote it on her textbooks and on her locker. They would say it in seminary when they would learn about people cursed with dark skin. Then they would say she and the few other kids of color in the school would be blessed and turned white in heaven.

Most of this I did not know about until they were out of school. I reported one of the few incidents my children told me about at the time to the Vice Principal. I had been assured by her that if there was ever any problem, that she would do something about it. It ended up being brushed off as a “joke,” and nothing was done.

When my daughter would go to the Principal or her Counselor at school about these things happening, they would tell her that they couldn’t do anything unless the kids put their hands on her. So much for stopping emotional abuse and bullying.

When my daughter worked at the deli in town, people asked to be served by someone else who wasn’t black. One person said our daughter was probably spitting in their food because she was black.

And on . . . .

And on . . . .

When George Floyd was murdered, and one of my children told me she was going to a protest, I lost it emotionally. She is attending a university far away from us, and I could not get there to go with her, and stand in between her and anyone who might hurt her. Every fiber of my being wanted to be there.

I consider myself a pacifist. But at that moment I imagined myself between her and a police officer, and I knew if they tried to hurt her, I would do anything I could to stop them. I say this so maybe you can begin to have some empathy. What would you do to save your child? Was my peaceful black child in danger at that protest? Of course she was. Was I proud of her, and would I have been proud to protest with her. Of course I would.

I think I have cried every day since George Floyd died, mostly because of the hurtful, blind, and ignorant things I have seen posted by my friends on Facebook and elsewhere. Many times it has been out of extreme frustration at what I see as the lack of understanding, and empathy, and lack of willingness to listen to and believe others’ experiences. There is so much of “I have never seen that, so it doesn’t really happen,” and “All lives matter,” and “There isn’t systemic racism,” and “Look, I found a black person who agrees with me, so all you other millions of black people are wrong, and I won’t listen to you” and on and on.

One of the most frustrating and upsetting things that I have seen many of my friends say is something like “The police will leave you alone if you aren’t doing anything illegal.” All I should have to say in answer to that is Breonna Taylor’s name. All you have to do is Google a little bit, and you will find so very many videos and reports of police not leaving innocent people alone.

There are many totally innocent black and white people being killed and injured by police. And there are many people innocent of any major crime being killed, or hurt, or harassed by police.

Those are all tragedies. Police being killed are also all tragedies.

So, what do we do? Well, I surely don’t know, but I have some opinions. And I am extremely limited in what I personally can do in my own little sphere and with my personal limitations. But I will try my best to do what I think I should.

I admit I have some extreme views.

I love America. I would rather live here than anywhere else. I love freedom and liberty. We have more of it here than most anywhere, I believe. But I also believe we don’t have anywhere near enough of it here.

So, when I suggest things that I think should happen, I think they should almost never happen through more laws, and oppression, and force directed at individuals. I think they should happen through people listening to and trying to understand each other, through hard conversations, through compromise, through changing policies and procedures of institutions, through discarding cherished and entrenched beliefs and institutions that are false and harmful, and through individuals deciding to love and care for others even at their own expense.

Human beings are destroyed by lack of freedom. I believe history bears that out over and over and over again.

There can be no thought police, ever. Sometimes these movements go so far that thought starts to be legislated. Then people are killed for their thoughts or beliefs. Then everyone loses their freedom. We have to allow people to think evil thoughts.

We cannot legislate morality and love. But if we can change perceptions, institutions, etc., then maybe hearts will also change.

I believe law enforcement and the judicial system have to change in major ways. There are specific drastic changes that I believe have to happen. I fully acknowledge that I am ignorant on much of police procedure and other institutions, and that changes are very complex and difficult to make. I can also be reasoned with, and am willing to learn and change my mind, as I have done on many important topics in my life.

But here is what I think. And these are just a few things. So much needs to be overhauled.

First of all, when you do away with something, you had better have something better ready first, to take its place. If you leave a vacuum with no way to deal with things that were dealt with before, then something worse will jump right in and fill it.

No more militarization of the police. No more of the police doing any job that can be handled by another agency or organization. No more training to overcome their innate reluctance to kill another human being. No more lethal force allowed except in the most extreme of cases. No more recruits hired that are psychologically questionable for the job. No more being allowed to lie to people who have been arrested. Mandatory body cameras on every officer and every police car during every encounter with any civilian. No more quotas. No more Qualified Immunity. Extremely high standards in psychological testing, morality, problem solving, etc. for all recruits. No one hired who has the least inkling of an “us vs. them” or racist attitude. Mandatory ongoing deescalation training. Mandatory therapy. Extremely high pay for the hopefully many fewer police officers, who are hopefully dedicated to protecting and serving. It is a job that requires willingness to self sacrifice, and they should be paid accordingly.

The release of all prisoners incarcerated for drug possession, and other victimless crimes, into programs to help them with reintegration into society and rehabilitation. And quit arresting them. Get rid of those laws. Many people just need help. Help them. Prison does not help.

Politics is such a big mess, I don’t know what to say. It seems to me to make most politicians into monsters. I think any great power over others does that.

I wish we could look at someone doing something we think is bad and ask ourselves why they might be doing it, instead of immediately judging them to be evil, or stupid, or thugs. Why do people riot? Why do they loot? I realize there are some very bad actors coming in and stirring things up and doing very nefarious things for possibly very scary reasons that have little or nothing to do with what the majority of people are peacefully protesting about. But some people are driven to do things out of extreme grief and anger that is rooted in things we can do something about. The same things they are doing have been done to them for centuries. Should we just arrest them or kill them? Or maybe there are changes that can be made that will actually help them. Can we stem the desire for retribution with listening, understanding, change, and love?

There is always a danger that those people who were killed go so far as to become the killers. People fear that, and all people should. History has to be remembered. Pendulums swing too far and the oppressed can become oppressors. But if the oppressors had done something different earlier on, would the swing never have gone so far?

I see so many friends posting things that to me are so callous and unloving, yet I know them personally to be loving people. I think it is because they just haven’t really deeply listened to someone of a different race or circumstance. We are all in our own boxes, and it is hard to put ourselves in someone’s shoes whom we have judged to be wrong before hearing their experiences or feelings. It’s easier to have an echo chamber for your Facebook page, or your Church congregation, or your group of friends. I am very grateful that I do not have that. I would be so much more ignorant than I even am.

So, here are my ideals for my own behavior. Because as far as people go, we can only really judge and change ourselves. Although we can persuade, with gentleness, meekness, and love unfeigned. I pray I can live up to these things. They are Jesus’ teachings. I think ultimately the things he taught are our only hope. And I am not talking about what religious institutions do. They have often caused much harm. I am talking about pure love.

For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the Devil, who is the father of contention; and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. (3 Nephi 5:8 RE)

And blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. (3 Nephi 5:16 RE)

And blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. (3 Nephi 5:18 RE)

Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, and it is also written before you, that thou shalt not kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment of God. But I say unto you that whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of his judgment. . . . Therefore, if ye shall come unto me, or shall desire to come unto me, and rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, go thy way unto thy brother and first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come unto me with full purpose of heart and I will receive you. (3 Nephi 5:24 RE)

I say unto you that ye shall not resist evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and to him that would borrow of thee, turn thou not away. (3 Nephi 5:30 RE)

I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you, that ye may be the children of your Father who is in Heaven, for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good. (3 Nephi 5:31 RE)

. . . if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (3 Nephi 5:34 RE)

Verily, verily I say unto you, judge not, that ye be not judged; for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged, and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull the mote out of thine eye, and behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. (3 Nephi 6:5-6 RE)

So, those things have huge implications, if we really believe them. We often put a “but” behind them. We give ourselves an excuse not to live that way.

What I do think we can do within those parameters is strongly call for change and try to facilitate that change. We can protest. We can bring all our forces of persuasion to bear. We can fight against corrupt and evil institutions.

What I think we might have to do, though, is sacrifice ourselves in many ways for the love of our neighbor.

Because what matters the most?

We can open our mouths boldly. But what do we open it against?

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil; for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 1:25 RE)

Those who believe in a Zion to come believe that only people who will not take up arms against their neighbors will be there.

What I have seen so far in this whole thing, is that when people lay down their arms, and refuse to fight, (i.e. police kneeling and/or protesting with the protestors) then hearts are softened and hopefully can heal. And good change can only happen with good people of all races working together, I believe.

I could go on. I could talk about the people of Anti Nephi Lehi and other things. But hopefully this long post is enough to get some of my thoughts across. And I hope I am not misunderstood.

I am going to put a few links at the end to things that have informed some of my views and added to my understanding of others’ views. Maybe they will be valuable to others, too.

Again, I believe love has to be the thing, or we are all lost.

Race in America

Not Just Tulsa: Five Other Race Massacres That Devastated Black America

Statistical comparisons

Qualified Immunity

Baratunde Thurston: How to Deconstruct Racism

Myths About Confederate Monuments

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March 24th, the Virus, and “Heroes”

MARCH 24th

First I need to mention the significance of this date to me.  As I write this it is March 24, 2020.  On March 24, 1973 I was baptized and became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Even I am probably not able to think of all the amazing ramifications of that decision.

I have written some about that in the past.  I was 15 years old, and I knew the gospel was true.  I was so happy to be allowed to be baptized.  I had been afraid my Mom would not let me.  I am so grateful she did.  I am so grateful for my friend who told me about the things she believed.

Because of that decision, I met Vaughn ❤️.

I have learned a lot through my life’s experience, and everything since that baptism has been seen through the lens of my deep beliefs.  I can’t really even imagine what my life would be like if I had not joined the Church.  I doubt I would rely on the Lord like I do.

The Virus

So, here we all are, most of us in the whole world, affected in some way by this virus, Corona Virus/Covid 19.  It is almost surreal.  I have never experienced anything like this in my life.  Our “normalcy bias” has been thrown into uncertainty.

We don’t know what will happen.  Will this virus run its course in a few weeks here in the USA?  Will things then go back to normal?  Will we then have toilet paper again?😊

The longer it lasts, the more lasting and deep impression it will make on us, I think.  If people lose someone they love, they will not ever be the same.  People are marked by what they experience.

My grandfather could never drink the last little bit of milk in the glass, even to the end of his life, because when he was young, there had been “dregs” in his milk that you didn’t want to drink.  It was never clear to me what those “dregs” were, but they altered his life in that tiny way.

Will we at least never take toilet paper for granted again?  But, if the sheltering in place lasts very long, if our economy changes drastically, and especially if we lose people we love, we will be changed in much greater ways.  Maybe in ways we don’t imagine yet.

I have seen this profound quote from Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring going around on Facebook:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

So we are in the midst of an interesting time that has been given us right now.  At least from our current earthly perspective, we didn’t choose it, and we don’t want it.  So, what do we do with it?  Do we fight against it changing us?  Do we just try to weather it so we can go back to exactly how life has been?  That would probably be the comfortable thing for us.  But I think it is probably not the purpose of our life, nor the reality of it, for us to be “comfortable” for a very long time.


I put the word “heroes” in quotes, because I think it is WAY overused, particularly by the media.  I think for the word to continue to really mean anything it should be reserved for those who demonstrate extreme willing sacrifice of self.  I am willing to call those who make a choice to sacrifice or risk their lives for others heroes.

There are those in this virus crisis who are, and will be, heroes.  Those who will risk and give their lives.  But we won’t all have the opportunity or the call to do that, even if this drags on and on.

But we will all have many choices to make.  I have seen many choices being made already.  We have all seen great division at this time already.  We have seen arguing, fighting, and hoarding.  We have seen the ramping up of political division, name calling, even those wishing the virus on others.  We have seen extreme distrust, fear, and oppression.  We have seen people being cavalier with the lives of others, either because they don’t believe in the threat, or the way it is handled, or because they are in a low risk group and somehow cannot put themselves in a high risk person’s shoes, or feel their fears.  We have seen disregard of the elderly.

We have also seen great kindness.  We have seen many government officials doing the best they can.  We have seen those in vital jobs continuing on, and working many extra hours, even when they are sometimes at great risk.  We have seen beautiful poetry about love and life and recovering nature in the midst of this.  We have seen free streaming concerts, free classes, and neighborhoods organizing to get supplies to those who should not go out.  We have seen some businesses, banks, and landlords defer and forgive bills.  I have seen friends do Facebook live’s sharing their talents and hope.  People are meeting on line through Zoom calls or in other ways to cheer each other and stay in touch.  We are blessed by the technology we have to allow this.

There are so many other examples of reactions to this situation we are all in.  Some very good, some very bad.  We probably all have some good and some not so good reactions.  But this is the time given to us.  We should be intentional about what we do with it and within it.

On Sunday, I felt really blessed.  I had heard some great, inspiring stuff.  I was pondering and praying about many things, and for many people, and I felt so very filled with love.  That day, and yesterday, I felt very clear about what my focus is to be for the rest of my life.  That focus has to be love, and doing whatever meager things I can to help people feel loved and cared for.  I often feel sad about how little I am able to do at all, much less for others.  But this is the circumstance and the time I have been given, and I am capable of love.

I think we often think that whatever we believe is the one right belief system.  That whatever group, or groups we are in are the right ones, the true ones, the better ones.  This engenders pride, which is a dangerous thing.  But we actually all have so much in common, no matter what political, religious, or other groups we identify with.

Amongst my friends there are hugely divergent opinions.  I believe they all have good hearts, and want the best for everyone and for humanity.  I think that every one of my friends and family, no matter what religion they are, or if they are no religion, or if they are atheists, all have some version of the same belief within them.  This is where I think we can “lay down our arms” and come together in this commonality.  If we use this belief to inform how we handle this time we have been given, then I think we will be all right.

A friend of mine has been working on a very interesting web site, where she is studying different religions, different belief systems, different traditions, and finding the commonalities.  On that site she posted this chart, which is all about this common belief I am talking about:

the-golden-rule chart

In order to follow this “golden rule” we have to be able to develop empathy for other people’s points of view.  We have to be realize we can be wrong, even when we are so sure we are right, and so sure that what we believe is actually the fact.  There were those who thought even God could not sink the Titanic.  We don’t want to admit our error only as we are sinking.

I won’t give examples I have seen of this thinking that we are the right and rational and faithful ones, but I will say it is harmful, and causes division and fear.  We may be right, but what would we feel like if we believed the opposite of what we do?  There are potentially life and death decisions being made.  Those who think they or their loved ones are at risk of death, even if you don’t, need to be treated as you would want to be treated if you were them.

Although I am so weak and fall so short, these are the things I want to do and be, with this time we have been given:  Be kind.  Be patient.  Be calm.  Be peaceful.  Be wise.  Be cheerful.  Be grateful.  Put myself in other’s shoes.  Notice needs.  Fill the needs I can.  Be brave.  And be filled with love for everyone, and let them know that as much as I can.

A while ago I thought about, or maybe I was asked, if I could be any hero in any book I had read, who would I want to be.  I knew immediately.  I would want to be Samwise Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings.

Sam’s Speech

“It’s like the great stories, Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad has happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing this shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines, it’ll shine out the clearer. I know now folks in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding on to something. That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”

I think every soul knows that love is the thing.  There’s some good in this world, for sure, and it all stems from love.  Love each other.


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A few months ago I had a pretty vivid dream.  A few dreams that I have had have a quality about them that makes me take them seriously.  This was one of those.

In the dream I was with my step father, Dave.  I think I was aware it was a dream, but it also was real to me.  Dave passed away quite a few years ago.  I remember thinking in the dream how good it was to see him.

He told me that he wanted me to write something about his life.  He said he wanted me specifically to do it.  He wanted me to honestly tell things I know about him and things about my relationship with him, even some hard things.  He said he felt I knew him as well as anyone still alive.  And he felt I knew things, and saw him in a way, that probably others didn’t.  I told him I would do it.

I thought I would do it right away, but I didn’t.  I have put it off because it is so hard to do it justice the way I want to.

But I need to not wait any longer.  Just a warning that there are some graphic details ahead about war and abuse that may be upsetting to read.

First I have to say that this is MY experience with Dave.  I know very well that other people still living (and dead) have a different view of him.  So, I do not claim this to be anything more than what I remember, and what I experienced, and what I came to feel for him, and what I learned.  We even talked some about this in the dream.  He also knows very well that different people in his life have had very different relationships with him and feelings towards him.  Sometimes extremely hard relationships with lots of pain.  Their feelings and experiences are as valid as mine.  I can just only speak of mine.

Dave was born in upstate New York.  He had a poor family, but he loved them, and I don’t remember him ever complaining about anything in his childhood.  He had an older sister and brother.  Some of the things he told me that happened in his childhood were awful to me, but he took it all in stride.  He told me of a time when his father beat his sister so badly with a belt that she couldn’t go to school for several days and had to lie on her stomach because of the welts on her back.  I can’t remember for sure what she had done, but it wasn’t something horrible, and the story was shocking to me.

When Dave was pretty small his older brother would tell him to go stand in the field so he could throw rocks at Dave and try to hit him.  He got his head split open with a rock that way.  Dave also thought that the reason Superman could fly was because of his cape.  So Dave got a towel and tied it on himself as a cape, climbed up on top of the porch roof, and jumped off, expecting to soar out over the field.  He thought maybe he would make a little loop in the air and then come back to the porch.  He was quite surprised when he plummeted to the ground.  I don’t remember if he was knocked out both of those times, but he might have been.  He laughed about it all.

Dave was wiry and strong as a kid, and he was a good fighter.  His brother would take him to older kids and say “I’ll bet you a dime David can beat you in a fight.”  Dave would say to them “Please don’t take the bet, because I’ll have to beat you up.”  But they would take the bet, thinking they could surely beat Dave.  Dave would reluctantly beat them up, and his brother would pocket the dime.  Dave laughed about that part, too.

When he was in High School there was a girl he knew who got pregnant.  That was quite a scandal then.  People were being mean to her, but he told her he would keep her safe.  He stayed around her all the time at school and would walk her home so that people would not make fun of her or treat her badly.  Apparently he did other things like that in High School.  He would fight if he needed to, but he also would protect those who couldn’t protect themselves.  My Mom told me about going to a High School reunion with him, and people coming up to him and thanking him for taking care of them in High School.

When he was 17 he talked his mother into signing for him so he could go into the Army at that age.  I can’t remember where he went for training, but at some point he got tired of it, and tired of being told what to do, and he went AWOL.  He just left and went to New Orleans and worked on a tug boat for a while.  His commanding officer called his mother and got her to talk Dave into going back.  That officer told Dave’s mother that he was one of the very best soldiers ever, if they could just keep him there.  Somehow he got in minimal or no trouble for doing that, which was shocking.  That officer must have really liked him.

This was during the Korean war.  They asked for volunteers to be trained as paratroopers.  Dave wasn’t going to do it, but some other guy said he would give Dave $50 if he would sign up, so he did.  Dave was assigned as the “pusher.”  He was the guy at the back of the line of guys when they were jumping who pushed on the line and made sure everyone jumped when they were supposed to.  They could always trust him to jump and not chicken out, so that was why he was the pusher.

He told me he saw three guys die jumping.  I remember one came down on top of another guy’s parachute in the air, and that collapsed the other guy’s parachute.  I think the others died because their chutes didn’t open.  Also, when they would parachute behind enemy lines, if someone broke their leg, or was hurt, they had to just leave them.

Dave told me quite a few stories about things that happened in Korea, but the ones I remember were the three times he should have died, and the time he killed a guy in hand to hand combat.

Dave slept in a top bunk in the barracks.  He always got up at the same time every day, but one day he woke up quite early.  He didn’t know why, but he just couldn’t sleep, so he went outside and took a walk.  When he got back there was a ton of commotion and some guys ran to him yelling for him to come and look.  When he went in the barracks he saw that a mortar had come through the roof, and hit his bed directly.  It was still there in the top bunk.  He said it really shook him up.

Another time he was assigned to drive an officer down the mountain.  The enemy could see them as they left but would lose sight of them in the trees on the way down.  But they would time them while they could see them and then try to take them out closer to the bottom.  But Dave didn’t know they were doing this that day.  On the way down this time, while they were in the part where they couldn’t be seen, another soldier was walking along the road, and Dave slowed down for a bit so he could say hello to the guy.  When they got near the bottom, there was an explosion right in front of them, but they did not get hurt.  That shook him up, too.

Another time it was winter, and they were running along a frozen stream and being shot at.  Dave looked up and saw a guy aiming at him across the stream.  He knew he would be killed, but right as the guy shot, Dave fell through the ice and the bullets went over his head.  I told him he had clearly been saved all those times for some reason.  He thought so, too.

Dave also had 2 or 3 Purple Hearts from being wounded.  I don’t even know or remember the stories of how he got those, but I know he still had shrapnel pieces in his leg.

The worst thing he ever told me was about when they were in a hand to hand combat situation, and he hit an enemy as hard as he could on the back of the head with the butt of his rifle, and the guy’s eyes came out from the force of it.  He was very somber when he told me about that, which was unusual for him, but I was still young and did not realize how horrible he must have really felt.

It wasn’t until years later that I realized what all those experiences could do to a person.  When I learned about PTSD.  When I realized a little bit what the trauma of war can do.  I honestly do not know how he was still sane.  I do not know how he functioned in his life after that at all.

When he came back from the war, he actually went back to High School and finished.  He told his school counselor that he wanted to go to college and learn to design airplane cockpits.  He was an excellent sketch artist, and he was drawing them.  The counselor laughed at him and told him he could never do that.  So he did not try.

He became a salesman and worked for Fuller Brush.  He got married pretty soon and had children.  He was a great salesman, and he was a terrible husband, by his own admission.  He did not talk a lot to me about that time, except to tell me when he was older that he had drunk too much all that time, and that he had been pretty awful.  The story of that time belongs to his children from his first marriage, and I won’t comment more, except to say that he knew he had failed with that family.

I remember the first time I met Dave.  Mom would take me to this little diner in Poughkeepsie, NY where I loved to get a bologna sandwich with mustard, and chicken noodle soup.  Dave was there with his son, and Mom introduced me to them, and I think we sat with them and ate.  I was 10 years old, I believe.

My Mom had met Dave because he was her Fuller Brush man.  For the younger people who don’t know what that is, it was kind of like a male Avon lady, if you’re even old enough to know what that is 😀.  They would come to your house and sell you cleaning products, etc.  I don’t know the details or the timing of things that happened, but my Mom and Dave started a relationship (she always called him David).  I do not know for sure if Dave was already divorced, but I think he had been for a while.  Mom was not divorced yet from my Dad.  My Mom was much maligned by many people, including her children to some degree, for having the affair and leaving my Dad, who was a kind, gentle, and brilliant man.  It wasn’t until she was on her death bed that she told me things that she had kept to herself all those years that changed my view of her leaving my Dad and having her relationship with Dave.  It is good not to judge people.

Dave1 2

My parents handled telling me and my brother about their divorce terribly.  Divorce was still fairly uncommon over 50 years ago.  I only knew one other kid then whose parents were divorced.  No one knew how to talk to kids about it, how to tell them.  So, my parents opted for not telling us.  For a long time we didn’t know.  All we knew was that we had gone to Tennessee to see our grandparents, which we did every summer, and our Dad had gone back to New York before us to go back to work, and then Dave showed up, and then we stayed and stayed, longer and longer.

We were too young and naive to realize that when Dave showed up in Tennessee, he wasn’t just a friend of my Mom’s.  Finally it got to the point where they felt they had to tell me, and Dave was the one who had to do it!  What a terrible thing that was for both of us.  At least I knew him a bit by that time, because he had been around all summer.  He had me go for a ride with him one night, and he pulled off the side of the road.  And this is what I remember that he told me exactly “Your Mom and Dad are divorced, and your Mom and I are married.”  He told me later about the sound I made then, that he had only heard a sound like it one other time, and that was when he saw a mother watch her soldier son’s body be taken off the plane, and she dropped to the ground and wailed.

That was a horrific moment in my life.  Nothing was ever the same again.  Even now, at my advanced age, I still see that as a moment everything changed for me, and I changed, too.  It was a terrible beginning to my relationship with Dave, and a totally unfair one for both of us.

For a while I was suicidal.  And then for years I hated him.  Since I was young, I had no real realization of what the adults were going through during those years, and what it might do to them.  There were massive financial stresses on them, and some of that was from moving and trying to make things better for my brother and me.  But Dave was still drinking.  He didn’t drink constantly, but when he did, it was very scary.  He could be violent.  He could hit really hard.  He was a very “large” personality.  He sang loud, he talked loud.  He worked hard, he played hard.  He was very physical.  All of this was very different from my Dad.  It was very difficult for me to deal with.

But he was also fun.  And he was generous.  I learned to play pinochle from him.  He and my Mom and my brother would play at night after dinner, and it was super fun.  When we were still in Tennessee, I remember him taking us all up into the Smoky Mountains, and we would go to this secluded place beside one of the mountain streams where it had a very deep spot, and we would swim in that super freezing, crystal clear, beautiful place, and we would picnic.

Dave1 3

Once we had moved to Florida, my little sister was born.  To me she was worth all the pain of the divorce and my bad (at that time) relationship with Dave.  She was the joy amidst what was actually a lot of horror to me.

When we moved to Florida I was told it was because Dave’s job with Fuller Brush wasn’t going well in Tennessee.  When I was older my Mom told me that he had been doing well, but they had actually moved because my great Uncle had molested me, and they moved so I would never have to see him again.  We had lived in a very nice house in Tennessee, but the actual job problems happened after they moved to Florida.  Things were financially very rough there for quite a while, but got better once my Mom and Dave opened up a paint and hardware store.

Although Dave was often volatile, and would get really mad, and yell loud, and sometimes hit me, it was usually momentary anger.  Even when I mostly hated him, I knew he actually thought very highly of me.  He thought I was smart and good.  But there was one time when he was really very deeply upset with me.

I think it was the summer after my first year in college or somewhere around that year.  My best friend had broken up with her boyfriend, and I started dating him for a short while.  It was stupid and one of the worst things I have ever done, but on the night this happened, we were actually deciding to “break up.”  The guy and I were at my house alone and talking about how we weren’t going to date any more.  We were sitting on the couch talking, and it got later and got dark, and we didn’t turn the lights on.  So my Mom and Dave walked in, and thought we had been doing something inappropriate.

Dave was furious!  The guy left, and I think my Mom went in her room, but Dave was telling me how awful I was, while I was trying to explain that we had actually only been talking about how we weren’t going to date any more.  But then he called me a slut.  It was just like he had slapped me.  He then said that it was a terrible thing I had done, to date my best friend’s boyfriend, even though they weren’t dating at the time.  That a friendship like I had with her was not worth risking for anything.  He was right.  At the time I thought how unfair he was being, because I hadn’t done anything at all that night except decide not to date him anymore.  And Dave had called me a slut for nothing.  But he was right.  (As an aside, my best friend got back together with the guy, and they got married, and are still married.  And she and I are still dear friends.  Thankfully she forgave me for my stupidity.)

I won’t go into all the bad things in my early relationship with Dave.  From what I have said so far, you can see it was rough.  But now none of that matters to me in how I feel about him.  And the main reason for that is that there was a day, years later when I was an adult, when again he took me out for a drive to tell me something.  But this time it was not a destruction of my life as I knew it, but a healing moment that has had repercussions throughout my whole life.  He sat there and took responsibility for everything bad or mean that he had ever done or said to me.  And he told me how sorry he was.

I had actually done a lot of work to forgive him before that day, but in that moment, when he took responsibility, and said how sorry he was, the last vestige of bad feelings in me was swept away, and I was healed.

There are so many other things that I could tell about him, but this is a blog post and not a book.  But here are a few of them:

When Dave was 6 years old he saw Jesus in the clouds.  He told me that once, and after he died we found a short biography that he had started to write about his life, but he didn’t get very far.  But he did write about seeing Jesus.  It made a big impression on him, and he always believed in God.

I remember that he wanted to quit smoking, and he went to a class to help with that.  He came home after the first class and told me about how they had showed them an actual lung from a smoker and a healthy lung.  That was all it took.  He quit smoking right then and never went back to the class.  He had an iron will.

Dave1 1

He bought me my first car.  A $500 blue Buick LeSabre.  Actually it was him and Mom.  But after he married Mom, I have the feeling that anytime we were given a big gift or money when it wasn’t a birthday or holiday, that Dave was behind it.  And that happened quite often through all the rest of his life.

Dave was an interesting dresser.  Some of the outfits I remember him wearing often were a purple ruffled tuxedo shirt, orange overalls with no shirt underneath, socks with sandals, and suspenders with shorts and no shirt.  He often embarrassed the teenage me by being very loud and jovial if we went out to eat, or anywhere.  He joked a lot.

When our oldest daughter was little, Dave and Mom decided to build her a doll house.  It was very complex and had extremely tiny nails like short gold threads.  Mom told me about them working on it, and Dave had no shirt on.  They dropped several of those tiny nails, and they somehow fell into his copious chest hair.  She laughed about searching for those tiny nails through his chest hair.  But she also said that they seriously almost divorced over that project. 😆

He and my Mom adopted my littlest sister when they were older.  My Mom worked at an unwed mother’s home, and through a long set of circumstances they ended up being able to adopt one of the babies Mom had cared for there.  It seems very clear to me looking back that Dave tried to make up for all his previous messed up parenting by filling her days with songs, and fun, and great experiences.  They were very close.

He did the same thing with my children.  They all loved their Granddaddy so much.  Our oldest daughter wrote an amazing eulogy for his funeral.  He was fun and loving and larger than life to them.


There was a year not too long before he died when I got to spend a lot of time with him.  At that time he worked selling medical supplies to people in their homes.  We lived next door to Dave and Mom, and money was tight for us, so he had me come work with him on some days, and he split his pay with me.  By that time he had some pretty bad heart problems, so it was easier for him if I would drive us to our appointments, which were sometimes pretty far away.  During those drives he would tell me stories about his life, and we would talk and talk about all kinds of stuff.  That was a wonderful time for me.  I hope it was for him, too.

I remember the day when he was in the hospital with his bad heart, and me and my Mom were sitting in a room with the doctor telling us how dire the situation was.  He said the tests showed that Dave’s heart was very damaged and enlarged.  The doctor said Dave must have had multiple heart attacks that no one knew about.  The arteries were very clogged.  All they could do was bypass surgery, but he warned that with such a damaged heart, the risks of him not surviving it were high.  It felt very surreal to me.  They did the surgery, and he did survive it.  But I remember being with him in the hospital room during his recovery, and he was in so much pain as he tried to get up and go to the bathroom, and he was moaning, and it was heartbreaking.  He had always been so incredibly strong and brave.

After that he changed a lot.  I wasn’t with him a lot the next few months before he died because we lived further away.  But my Mom told me how he became so patient, and gentle, and kind.  He was too ill to really go out to work anymore, so my Mom would go on the sales calls with my littlest sister, who was still just a young teenager.

On the day he died, my Mom and sister had been out most of the day, I think.  Mom said when she walked in the front door of the house, that she knew he had died because she could feel it.  She went in their bedroom, and he was lying on the bed with the TV on, calm and peaceful looking, with his feet crossed at the ankles, just how he always lay in bed, and he was gone.

Bagpipes were played at his funeral.  He loved bagpipes.  The hole he left was as large as his personality, and it has never been filled.

I learned so much from Dave.  Even when life was so hard for me with him when I was young, and even when I thought I hated him, I knew he loved me and thought I was pretty great.  In fact, except for my husband, Dave is the person in my life who I felt loved me unconditionally, and who I knew even if I did crappy stuff, he would still like me.  I also always knew that I could have gone to him for help in any circumstance.  It was a weird thing when I realized that, and not something I can fully articulate even now.

From experiences with Dave, I learned about forgiveness.  I learned about not judging.  I learned that almost everyone is damaged by stuff we don’t comprehend.  I know now that if we attempt to improve and fight against our demons, that that is pretty much all that can be expected of anyone.  I learned that extremely flawed people can nevertheless be heroic.

So Dave, I wrote it, as you asked.  I hope it is enough.  You already know I forgive you for everything, because I have told you many times.  I feel from you that you don’t hold anything against anyone, either.  And that is the way to forgiveness.  Thank you for everything you did for me.  I love you always. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

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Wild Decade

It has been a wild ride of a decade for me, that is for sure.  In my better moments, I see life as an adventure, and so it has been.  And the past decade has been the most adventurous of them all for me.

I think it has been the hardest decade of my life, but also the best in relation to eternity.  I have learned the most these past 10 years, and a lot of that is because I have been able to put into context so much of what I have experienced and learned throughout my whole life previously.

I feel like my whole life has been a roller coaster going round and round, and up and down, but then this last decade, the car has flown off into the stratosphere at an incredibly high rate of speed, and it has been terrifying, and amazing.  No more rails to hold me down or give me a false sense of traditional and worldly security.  It’s pretty much just me and God now.  Thankfully Vaughn is in the car with me. 🙂

Although my search for truth and trying to understand the things of God all my life led to it all being able to happen, I can identify a certain catalyst moment for most of what I have learned and experienced this last decade.  It was accidentally (seemingly, but I don’t believe much in pure coincidence) seeing a book on Amazon, and choosing to purchase and read it.

That book was The Second Comforter, Conversing with the Lord Through the Veil.  I looked it up today in my purchase history on Amazon, and I bought it on April 26, 2009.  Over the next couple of months I bought more copies to give to friends whom I thought would love it like I did. 😬 😊

So, for my children, grandchildren, friends, and whomever else reads this, here are some experiences and things I have learned over the past decade or so.  All of them were valuable, although some were incredibly hard and sad, but I am grateful for all the experience and hope I will learn what I am supposed to from it all.

(I want to be clear that whenever I say the Lord told me or showed me something, I am talking about him making things known to me through my spirit, or telling me things in my mind and heart, or through a dream, or what I call a vision.  I am not talking about him standing in front of me and talking to me face to face. 

I have friends who have had that happen, but I have not had that happen.  I do not want to misrepresent my experiences, or say things in such a way as to imply something other than what has happened, as I have heard many do.  But I do not know another way to say it other than to say the Lord has told or shown me, so you can just know I am not talking about conversing with him face to face when I say that.

And I especially want to say that whatever I believe the Lord has told or shown me has been my experience, and does not mean that others should believe or think the same thing. 

We are all supposed to use persuasion, as the Lord does, and as he has said in the scriptures.  Not try to control people with our “spiritual” experiences.  And everyone has their own journey anyway.)

I have read some amazing books the past decade.  Although The Second Comforter was amazing and the catalyst for the past 10+ years of incredible stuff, there are other books I am more likely to recommend that I have read during that time.  Some of them are: Come Let Us Adore Him, Preserving the Restoration, Knowing, Application of Impossible Things, and Ten ParablesThere are lots of others, but I would love it if my loved ones read those and told me their thoughts, and we could discuss them.

Early on in the decade, I had to confront being afraid at Church.  I would never have imagined that would be possible.  It was a shocker, but good for me.  It made me look at my own treatment and judgement of others, and at my “pride” and confidence in what I was so sure I “knew” for almost 4 decades.

One of the miracles for me early on was the Lord changing my brain in an instant so that I suddenly understood in a way I never had before that I must not follow men, that it was very wrong.  That was an amazing moment that I can hardly describe.

I lost the respect of many family and friends.  Very good for me.  Pride is incredibly dangerous.

I heard of people maligning my husband for his beliefs (which are the same as mine) behind his back.  A good way for me to learn to let go of anger and hurt.  I have learned a lot about forgiveness and understanding.  I believe everything comes from fear or love at its root.  We all need to forgive all those things done stemming from fear, which includes anything controlling done in the supposed name of love.  Controlling people comes from fear.

Also early on I had an overwhelming baptism of fire experience.  I have talked about that some elsewhere.  I learned in a deeper and more prolonged way about the love of God for all of us.

I also had some other spiritual things happen that taught me a lot about the atonement that I won’t go into, but in 2012 or so I had an experience where the Lord was telling me we were to move to Utah.  I knew that with a surety in my soul greater than I knew before was possible to experience.  It was absolutely not what I wanted to do, but I knew it was what was to happen.  And I have had continual evidence of the importance of that move ever since.

At one point the Lord told me that a certain person whose teachings the Lord had told me were true would be excommunicated.  I knew that since I believed the same stuff that person did, that I would also be in danger of excommunication.  At that time, that was an unthinkable horror to me.  I prayed that by the time it happened, the Lord would give me courage and understanding so I could handle whatever came of it.  He did.

I have been pitied, ignored, called an apostate, had friends be rude, de-friend and block me on Facebook, and other things that were very sad for me.  This has all happened because I believe differently, or because I have talked about things that are true but seem “negative” to others.  But I have seen other friends suffer much worse than I have, including being excommunicated, and losing spouses, children, and other family members because of their beliefs.  So very sad, but all good for me to see to reflect on my own treatment and judgement of others again, and to see how fear destroys things.

I have studied so many things freely over this past decade.  It is so wonderful to not feel restricted in what you can or should read and study and learn.  There is truth everywhere.  So much is missed when men tell you what to read and what not to read.  The truth should not be feared.  If the truth can shake something, then it should be shaken.  I have learned to trust the Lord, and not men, to help me discern.  I have also learned that fear is not from the Lord, and that a “bad feeling” initially about something doesn’t mean it is not true.  Things that cause us cognitive dissonance, or threaten our pride or what we have based our foundation on, can “feel” bad at first.  Joseph Smith said that the Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence.  We can have a feeling in reaction to the knowledge the Holy Ghost gives us, but feelings alone are not reliable ways to “know” something.  There are lots of examples in scripture of people having a “bad feeling” about something true being told to them.

The Lord told me to be rebaptized on Sept. 20, 2014.  It was my 57th birthday, and I was born in 1957.  There was much symbolism in it for me, although I didn’t even realize all of it until afterwards.  For those wondering, yes, I believe my baptism on March 24, 1973 when I was 15 years old and joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also was vital and something the Lord told me to do.  I would never have gotten to the second without the first.  And both were vital for me to show the Lord through my faith and action that I accepted what he was doing in my life, and in the world now.

I have had some shocking revelations of how much me being a member of the LDS Church, and the things that caused me to do, hurt my extended family who weren’t LDS, and even my immediate family.  They were telling and showing me the harm it was causing them through the years, but since I thought I was doing right and must follow men whom I thought surely knew better, I harmed myself and others needlessly, and against what the Lord would have wanted.  It took the Lord gently showing and teaching me so much for me to realize it.  I am so grateful for mercy and the love of my family in spite of my foolishness.

I have mourned the loss of friends and the closeness of many relationships, but I have rejoiced in the making of new friends and relationships different from any I have ever had before.

By 2010, maybe sooner, I had met some people online who had also been reading and believing some of the same stuff I had.  I can’t remember exactly when, but I think by 2013 a bunch of us had gotten together in an online chat group.  We became really good friends, and other people have joined over the years.  This group has become an amazing thing.  Much of what I have learned this past decade, I have learned through discussion and experience there.  Most of us consider this group our “fellowship” much like the early Christian “churches” after Jesus’ death and resurrection.  A church was always supposed to be a group of believers, not an institution.

Over the years, since we can chat whenever we want, we have learned so much about each others’ lives, personalities, and beliefs.  We have most all gotten together in person at various times whenever we could.  And we do Zoom calls to chat face to face and to do the Lord’s Supper together.  Many of us pay our tithing to those in need in the group.  The amount of tithing help and care given, and the many people helped over the years would likely stun anyone who heard about it.  I consider the people in this group part of my family and love them dearly.

From this fellowship interaction, I have learned more than I can tell.  Everyone in there has dealt with some similar trauma, and it has been worked out on there to a large extent.  One major thing I think we have all learned is how to continue to love and care for, and still be friends with, those who profoundly disagree with us.  We have huge differences in how we view many things.  And although we are certainly very far from perfect at it, I have never come close to anything like it in any relationships I have ever had before.  Because of being able to freely express our thoughts, without dire fear of rejection or shunning, we are all able to learn so much.  This has been a blessing greater than I can express.

Over this decade I have learned that so much of what the LDS Church believes about Joseph Smith, and so much of what most of those who have left the LDS Church believe about Joseph Smith, is not what I believe about him.  I am amongst a very small group who believes he was a prophet, did begin the restoration of the gospel, did bring forth true scripture, did not practice polygamy in the way the LDS Church and most former members think he did, and that he would hardly recognize what the LDS Church teaches now.  I believe the LDS Church and its scores of offshoots are clearly descended mostly from Brigham Young and his beliefs and traditions rather than mostly from Joseph Smith, as most members think they are.

I have learned what tithing was always meant to be, and how that changes the very concept of the nature of God.  And I have learned that tithing is for the poor, and I have experienced and watched the absolute miracles that abound when it is handled that way.  There would truly be no poor at all if we all understood and lived the law of tithing the way the Lord wants.

In Oct. of 2014 Vaughn and I resigned from the LDS Church.  We would have been excommunicated if we had stayed, although not by our Bishop at the time, who was very kind to us.  But he pointed out that the next Bishop likely would, and someone at some point surely would, unless we changed what we believed.  After we resigned, the Lord told me that he had led us to that course in answer to something I had been praying for a long time, and that was that no one would ever be condemned because of anything they did to me.  No one would be in trouble for kicking me out when I was following the Lord, since I had resigned.

I have learned over this past decade that what I called the plan of salvation is much more vast, much more complex, much more beautiful, and much more merciful than I ever imagined before.  That this life is one step in an almost infinite number of steps to become like our Heavenly Parents, but at the same time it requires so much more to progress here than I had realized.

I have learned from looking back that the Lord has tried to teach me much of that before, but I could not see it until I was where I am now.  Now I can look back and see that the Lord has been leading me carefully along, but that I also could have stopped that movement forward at any time by making different decisions, or rejecting what he was offering me, and it chills me to the bone to see how easy it would have been to do that.  I am also aware that I have likely done that with some things anyway, and don’t realize it.  I can only pray he gives me other chances in this life, so I don’t have to do it all again.

I have learned that this quote, which can be found here, is truth: “When it comes to the gospel of Jesus Christ, which according to Joseph Smith comprehended all truth. It is our own fear that limits our capacity to gain from what’s being offered. It’s a measure of our ingratitude, when declining the invitation that Joseph extended to search deeper and deeper into the mysteries of God, we elect to withdraw fearfully and conclude that we’re just not interested in what might have been had. It’s actually a trick of the devil to get people to close their minds and close their hearts, because they fear what they may be learning will do damage to them.”

I have learned that our free agency really is paramount, and that although I didn’t usually realize it, I was often infringing on my children’s and others’ agency, and that I was in a system that was doing it all the time while thinking it was not.  I have learned that God never does that.  And that any thing or system that does is not of God.

In Jan. 2017 I heard of the Testimony of St. John.  I read the whole thing right away, before I knew how it had originated.  I was blown away.  It has amazing stuff that fit in with other things I was learning from the Lord myself.

On Sept. 3, 2017 a covenant was again offered by the Lord to anyone who wanted to accept it.  I had previously read it, studied it, and knew it to be the Lord’s voice, which I recognized as soon as I read it.  Vaughn and I were in Boise, ID, in the audience on that day when it was offered for the first time, and we accepted it.  Anyone who wants to can accept it still.

For a long time we had discussed in our online group about our Heavenly Parents and the condescension of God as discussed in the Book of Mormon, and lots of other cool stuff.  A talk was given called Our Divine Parents on March 25, 2018 that we listened to as it was given, and it confirmed some things that we had come to the conclusion were true about Heavenly Mother, and also taught a lot of other stuff that clarified things I had thought about, and much that was new.  I love it, and have read the written version several times.

I have talked about the scriptures project before, so I won’t repeat what I have said in other posts, but I am so excited about that!

I have learned that a person can be given a message to disseminate widely from the Lord, but such a person will not ask you to follow them, but will always point you to the Lord.  They will not take your agency.  They will not have authority over you in any way.  They will use persuasion and not force.  And they can still be wrong about things.  And so, I have learned that the authority must be found in the message and not in the person.

During this past decade Vaughn has had two heart attacks, and I have had health problems.  In the moments things like that happen, it is hard to see them as blessings, but the Lord has shown me that they are.  I have had to choose hard things in spite of abject fear.  I have been shown some of the purposes of the Lord.  I have seen some of the immensity of the plans of the Lord and been comforted by seeing that.  I have been told by the Lord that I have been healed in the past and that therefore I should realize any lack of healing now is not from a lack of faith to be healed.  That gives me comfort.

There is much to learn from trials and possible imminent death.  There is much to learn from grief and even fear.  I hope to learn it all without having to experience much more of it. 😊

So, these are a few of the important things in my life over the past decade.  I wanted to write this to have a record of it, since I am not good about writing a journal at all.

A few more thoughts: One of the hardest things for me over the past decade has been that almost none of my old friends have asked me anything about why I changed what I believe, what I actually believe and why, what I am learning, why I am not a member of the LDS Church anymore, or any of the things that matter so much to me.  If I were on the other side of this, I suppose I would be the same, just avoid the awkward stuff or whatever upset me.  Just ignore them.  But it is hard, because everyone wants to be understood, and not misunderstood.

When we resigned, the members in our ward at the time started talking about how we had been offended and that was why we left.  To be fair, they didn’t know us very well at all. Only one person ever asked us about the real reasons why, but the supposed reason that we were offended, was totally made up.  But it is part of the party line for why members think people leave: they were offended, they wanted to sin, they are too lazy to come, they weren’t reading their scriptures and praying, etc.  Knowing hundreds of people who have left, and also knowing what the LDS Church’s own research shows, I can tell you none of those things, or other simple or shallow reasons, are hardly ever the truth.

We had written a letter for the Bishop to share with other leaders in which we explicitly said we were not offended in any way.  But that is still what people said.  Our children who were still members at the time and attending there, were very upset by the mean things they heard said about us.  One of them was told by a leader that since her parents had left, and she couldn’t be with them forever now, that they would be her family now.  She was so horrified that she left the building right after that meeting and didn’t go back.

Over a decade ago, I would have probably thought and acted much the same as those members did, because I would not have been on the other side to know better or to have seen the consequences of my thoughts and actions.  But if you are a member of the LDS Church, and have read this far, please know that these common misunderstandings, and shunning behaviors do not help, and are not true.  And they backfire.  The best thing is when people are just honestly kind and show you love without an assignment to, and there was one person who did do some of that. ❤️

There is so much common ground in this world.  All people of goodwill, whatever their religious or political or other beliefs, generally have the belief of loving one another and treating others as you would want to be treated.  It would seem to me we could always fall back on that common ground, and try to understand each other, and not fear each other.

If you have read this long treatise, and know me, and are afraid you might have ever hurt me, don’t worry about that!  I just love you and thank you for everything, and hope you will forgive me for anything I have ever done that has caused pain or harm.  We are all in this life together.  We can all love and help each other. ❤️

Thanks for reading this!  I’ll try to make my next post MUCH less about me.

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What if It’s a Blessing?

When the Washington Post article, and then other articles, came out yesterday about the Mormon Church hoarding over 100 Billion dollars of tithing derived money and possibly using, or not using, the funds illegally, I saw many members upset.

(Here is a good summary video of the allegations.)

Again, it seemed to many, the Mormon Church was being persecuted by outsiders.  Or perhaps Satan was again attacking the Church and making it look bad.  Perhaps people are thinking:  These kinds of negative stories are upsetting.  Why can’t people just focus on the good things?  And there are so many good things, done by the Church and the members, to focus on.

Today things seem to have calmed down with members seeming to feel reassured that the Church and the leaders are doing what they should.  I have heard amongst other things that: They are saving for a rainy day.  They are practicing what they preach by being prepared for anything by having that enormous amount of money sitting there.  That we don’t need to worry where our tithing goes because we have the Lord’s servants directing all of that.  And that the beautiful buildings and wonderful programs are all run by it, and the rest is there for whatever need arises (that might require 100 billion plus).

But what if the news stories coming out aren’t persecution, and aren’t Satan attacking the Church again?

What if it is actually a blessing from the Lord?

What if the Lord has been trying for years to get us to wake up?  What if he wants his children to awake and arise and realize some things?  But he doesn’t want to take away our agency to do it, because he won’t do that.  That is what Satan does.  Maybe God is just helping some hidden things come to light, so that we will hopefully realize some things.

What if God wants us to remember the scriptures and what he has taught us in them?  What if the Book of Mormon really is for us to learn from and to apply to ourselves (the people who actually read it), and not to use to judge the rest of the world.  What if we are the ones who have “polluted the holy church of God?”

Mormon 8:37 For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted. 

38 O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God?

What if King Benjamin really was speaking the Lord’s words when he said this?:

Mosiah 4:16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.

17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—

18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God. . . .

21 And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.

22 And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done.

23 I say unto you, wo be unto that man, for his substance shall perish with him; and now, I say these things unto those who are rich as pertaining to the things of this world. . . .

26 And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.

What if the Lord wants us to remember that the business of the Church is supposed to be open and transparent and that things in the Church are to be done by common consent?  What if he wants all the members to know exactly what the Church does with all its tithes and offerings, and profits from business ventures funded by those tithes and offerings?

What if the Lord wants things to be out in the open? What if God does not like secret works of darkness, and is having this and many, many other things come to light over the past several years so that we would start to wake up to these problems?

What if the Lord wants us to remember that having “no poor among them” is the state of Zion, and that 100 Billion + is way more than enough to make that true for all Mormons, and arguably enough to go a long way towards eradicating poverty in the whole world?

Maybe the Lord is trying to remind us that we are not to follow the arm of flesh, as he has told us over and over.  What if the Lord really does want us to think about what Jesus would do, and not just say “All is well.”

2 Nephi 28:21 And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.

Maybe this news, about one of the companies owned by the Church having 100 Billion+ sitting there doing nothing but making more money and the possible illegalities surrounding that, and all the other things that have been coming out over the past few years, such as the protection of sexual predators and defaming of victims, historical cover-ups, gaslighting, paid clergy, other financial secrets, etc., will be enough to shake us to our core hard enough to save us from destruction.

What if these “revelations” are to save us, not to make us entrench more fully into our belief in our own specialness, and our surety that we are the wheat amongst tares, and that we will never fail, and that our leaders cannot lead us astray.  Maybe all these revelations are to wake us up, shake us up, just as the voice of the angel did to Alma the Younger.  That was not pleasant for him.  But he listened, and cried out to God in his anguish, and was saved.  Let’s not be like the Pharisees who were harshly admonished by Christ (who called them vipers, etc., and who cleansed the temple with a whip), but saw no fault in themselves or the other religious leaders of the time, only in he who admonished them.

Maybe we should listen when our sins are shouted from the rooftops, instead of digging in and insisting on our continued righteousness even in the face of obvious moral failings.

Where will we draw the line?  What will have to happen before we admit there is a problem?  How much more will we explain away or ignore?  How much will it take to cause us to awaken?

What if God does actually want us to think for ourselves about what is right, and not follow anyone but him.

I hope we don’t continue to make excuses until Christ appears and says he never knew us.

Matthew 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

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I wrote about the new scriptures project in my last post, way back in April.

Buffalo-Family-1 Scriptures

There is a window from now until October 15th (2019) to be able to order them in leather editions.  There are various leather type options, and various color options.  These are extremely high quality versions, designed to last for generations, and the price is very low for each three volume set (and it includes shipping in the USA), since no profit is intended to be made.  Any shortfall in the cost of production is going to be covered by some generous donors.

They don’t know when, or even if, there will be another printing, so anyone who wants one of these editions should place their order right away.

Goat-Family-1 Scriptures

Rather than go into all of the info about these scriptures on this blog, I will just refer you to the web sites about them.

First of all, if you want to know what is contained in these scriptures, and why in the world new scriptures would be needed or wanted at all, this site can give you info on that:

You can also read them for free on there.

To purchase the new leather ones, or paperback ones also, and to read about all the options and the printing process, go here:

Nubuck-Family-1 Scriptures

We have been waiting for these for a long time.  As I said in my last post, I am so grateful for the incredible amount of research and work that have gone into compiling and printing these!

Lamb-Family-1 Scriptures

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The Scriptures

The first copy of the Book of Mormon I ever had was one of the bright blue paperback copies with the gold Moroni statue on the cover.  If you are too young to have ever seen one of those, you should Google it.  They were so cool.  I was sad when they didn’t have those any more.  I got it before I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which was in 1973.

I loved that book.  I think after decades, and after its cover was gone, it finally ended up being thrown away, but I loved it.  It was greatly marked up.  I think it is the one I used to graph out chiasmi (had to look up the plural form of that word!) in college in different colored pencils.

Back in the days when I was baptized into the Church, we used any King James Version copy of the Bible that we wanted.  I had a different version of the Bible from my childhood as a Baptist, and I believe I used that for a bit, but at some point I got a KJV.

At some point I was taught that Joseph Smith worked on a “translation” or “inspired version” of the Bible.  This was marvelous to me!  Since we believe the Bible as far as it is translated correctly, to have a more correct version would be such a blessing.

I had no access to the corrections Joseph had made, though, until 1979 when the LDS King James Version was printed.  I was a young married person at that time, and I remember Vaughn and I were so excited about this!  In this Bible, the verses that Joseph had changed, or added to in some way, were marked with a footnote, and if the change was short, you could find it at the bottom of that page in the notes.  Longer changes were in a separate section in the back.

In 1981 a new Triple Combination (Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price in one volume) was also published by the Church.  Around then I got a “Quad” which was all four books of scripture bound into one.  In that Quad, I went through and highlighted in red pencil the notes which were Joseph’s inspired changes of the Bible at the bottom of each page where they were found, so that I would not miss one while reading.  I loved the inspired version.  I did find that Joseph’s changes weren’t always used or referred to at Church, though, even in lessons, and that surprised me.

At some point I learned that not all of Joseph’s changes were in the new LDS KJV.  This really surprised me.  I did not understand why you would not want to have every single thing Joseph ever changed actually in the Bible.  I think I asked about why it wasn’t in there, and I do remember that from whatever I was told, my understanding at that point was that the RLDS Church (now the Community of Christ) had the rest of it, and so the Mormon Church did not have the rights to it all, and so couldn’t print it. Turns out that wasn’t quite true, and also that the RLDS version also had changes made to it after Joseph died and had other mistakes in it, as did all the scriptures at that time.

A few years ago I began to realize the problems with the Doctrine & Covenants.  Such things as changes being made to Joseph’s revelations by others after the fact, and other problems.  And I learned about the Book of Mormon problems with punctuation (there was none in the original manuscript – it was all added at first by the type setter), transcription and typesetting errors, etc.  I obtained a copy of Royal Skousen’s The Book of Mormon, The Earliest Text.  It was quite amazing to read, especially because it was more in the format it was before the division into chapters and verses.  The flow and understanding of it seemed so different.

After that I started to really wish I had the ability and know-how to research and figure out all the erroneous changes, and to get back to what Joseph Smith originally received as far as the Book of Mormon is concerned, and back to the original revelations he received without the changes others had made (which sometimes greatly changed, or even reversed the original meaning).  Shortly after wishing that, I heard a rumor that someone else was actually doing that, and I was very excited about it.

It turned out that there were actually two groups of people, who both felt that they needed to do that very thing – go through all the scriptures, and all the sources, and all the research, and put together something that was as correct and as close to what Joseph Smith had done as possible.  After both working on the project for quite a while, those two groups found out about each other, and they got together, and shared everything they had done so far, and began to work together on the project.

The whole project turned out to be more work, more amazing, and more important than anyone realized at the beginning.  I have some friends amongst the group, and I was talking with one of them a few days ago.  I asked him if he had any idea how much work, and how important a project this would be when he first began.  He said he had no idea.

The project has taken a few years and the efforts of many people.  As it went on, the participants, and those cheering them on from the sidelines, began to slowly realize how vital this work was to what the Lord is doing right now.

It is finally done, although there will always be new revelations to add.  The Lord loves everyone and he speaks today and to all nations.  So much more is also expected in the future.  But it was vital to recover and remember, as much as possible, what the Lord had already given during this restoration, which was not finished during Joseph Smith’s lifetime, but which now has a chance to be finished.  This was one of the absolutely vital elements, which I don’t think most of us realized at the start.

What has been done in this project is available to read for free at  There will be hard copies of the finished project available before too long.

I am so incredibly grateful to the people who have worked on this, and to the Lord for inspiring and guiding them throughout.


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Today is a Day

Today is a day I feel very sick.

I feel sick every single day. I have felt sick every single day for many years.

But some days, like today, I have moments when I feel like it might be the last day. Obviously whenever I have felt that it hasn’t been true, so far, but someday it will be.

Any of you who know me much at all know I have Lyme Disease. I had it for 6 years before anyone knew what was wrong, and so it got a hold in my brain and in at least some organs, and my general trend has been slowly downward, as far as health goes. It is likely Lyme is what will kill me.

It’s not that there’s no hope for remission. There is. I hope I get there. But I’m not really feeling it today.

But this post is not about Lyme.

This post is about death. But it is not meant to be sad, nor to make anyone sad.

There are moments when I want to die. When I am so sick that I know death would be a great relief. But I still have a strong underlying will to live. I’m not ready to leave you all yet!  But, I have also felt for years that if that will goes away, I will die. I know it is God keeping me alive. He has told me that many times. But I also think if that will inside me dies, that he will honor that. God never forces me, he only persuades me.

Every time I write a blog post, I think about what I want people I love to know now and when I am gone. But before I die, what do I want people to know the very most? I am going to try now to say some of those things. Both my practical wishes and more spiritual and emotional thoughts.

And a lot of it is stuff I want everyone who knows me to know, so I put it here on my blog instead of just telling a few family privately.

I am grateful. For everything. For every moment of my life, and for everything that I have experienced. I can say that in this moment. In the midst of my desperate moments, I can’t always say that. But in this calm moment, and looking back at every hard thing, I can say it and mean it with my whole soul.

In one of my very most desperate moments, when all I could do was try to keep breathing and pray without even words, the Lord took my mind to a place where I could see that everything was as it should be, and that we are all one in some profound way, and that Love has us in its arms.

I try to remember that. It’s not always easy.

I read this article, and I have some things to say pertaining to what it talks about.

I have watched my child die, and I have watched my Mother die. I tried to be there when my Father died, but I was too late. It was a privilege to be with my son and my Mom. I hope that it helped them to feel my great love for them as they moved on. I hope that someone who loves me dearly will be with me when I die. I believe someone will, even if there happens to not be someone mortal there at the time.

As for medical wishes, I know that advance directives might not do very well at actually describing what should be done in the end of life. My Mom’s was not written the way it needed to be to honor her wishes. Thankfully she was awake and lucid that last day and could tell them what not to do.

So, while I want to live now, there are some states I would not want to live in. I do not want to live in continuous terror. I do not want to live in continuous excruciating pain. I do not want to live if my mind is gone. If my mind is there, but everything else is gone, particularly the ability to communicate, let me go to sleep and move on.

If you happen to be with me when I am dying, talk to me. Even if you think I can’t hear you, talk to me. Tell me how you feel. Tell me about yourself. If you can’t think of anything to say, then read to me. Or play me talks you know I would like. Rub my back or my feet, if it seems to feel good to me, and if it doesn’t gross you out too much 🙂 . I want to die at home with my comfort managed, if at all possible.

When I die, donate my organs and tissues to those who study Lyme Disease, if possible. Don’t spend any more money than absolutely necessary on me after death! I am fine with being buried just in my flannel pajamas and no coffin or anything. Or cremate me and pour my ashes in some pretty place. I want my family to do whatever they want that is easiest for them. If there is a memorial service or something like that (only if you want to have one), then sing for me, if you feel like it, and I will be listening.

All I ask is that before you do any of those things, make sure I am really dead. I was too affected by reading Poe’s “Premature Burial” in my youth 🙂 .  (I also realize some of this stuff needs to go in a will.)

If you think you have ever hurt me, offended me, upset me, etc., Let It Go! I have prayed many nights that no one would ever be condemned for anything they have done to me, that they would be blessed with the greatest possible blessings, and with whatever was best for them. I have been abused, molested, raped, robbed, shunned, berated, humiliated, treated terribly, and horribly misunderstood. So have a lot of people. If you have done any of those things to me, you either actually haven’t, or I forgive you. I only think back about those things in terms of what I have learned, or can learn, if I think of them at all. I have learned a lot from it all. My hard times have been a blessing.

If you have ever loved or helped me in any way, I am so thankful to you! More than I can say! I have prayed many nights for you to have the greatest possible blessings, and whatever is best for you. I have been cherished, healed, gently cared for, blessed, befriended, helped in huge financial and so many other ways, and dearly loved. I wish those things for everyone. I have learned so much from everyone who has been so good to me. My good times have been a blessing.

If I have ever harmed you in any way, please forgive me. I am foolish and human. It would be too long a list if I wrote all my faults. If you know me, you know at least some of them. For your own peace, forgive me. And also know that my desire my whole life has been to never hurt anyone. I have, of course, failed miserably. But that has been my desire.

I remember that my Step-Father told my Mother that if they had an argument, and if he died before they could make up, to not feel badly or guilty about that. To me, that was beautiful. I say the same. Whatever our circumstances at the time I die, know that I have only love for any of you who know me, and anything less is not the truth, it is just a hindrance of mortality, and I don’t plan on taking anything but love for everyone with me. So have no regrets and no guilt because of me.

I have the best family and friends ever. Every one of you, living and dead. You are all the best. You are all perfect for me. I would not change any of you. I would wish for you all to be happier, and healthier, and more peaceful, and to know more truth to delight your souls, but I also know God has you. They have you.

The path of my life has been perfect for me, and I trust that it will continue to be. Even if I whine about it.

Whenever I die, I believe it will be the right time. I know some people will be very sad. That is okay. It is always worth the pain to love. I hope you will have comfort in knowing I loved you dearly and you made my life wonderful. But don’t get sad yet. I’m still here!

I do intend to live many more years. I am not that old (although it may seem I am to my younger family and friends 🙂 ), and the disease I have is sometimes possible to get under control. I am doing lots of things right now to get well, and some of that might actually be making me feel temporarily worse, which prompted this post. So have lots of hope for me. And I look forward to writing lots more on this blog!

It makes me glad to have written this.  Thank you for reading it.

And when we do die, we’ll just be coming home again to each other.

“But when I stop
And see you here
I remember who all this was for
And from now on
These eyes will not be blinded by the lights
From now on
What’s waited till tomorrow starts tonight
It starts tonight
And let this promise in me start
Like an anthem in my heart
From now on
From now on
From now on
And we will come back home
And we will come back home
Home, again!
And we will come back home
And we will come back home
Home, again!
And we will come back home
And we will come back home
Home, again!”

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