Monday, July 21, 2014

Dear C. Jane, What's that Returned Missionary Guide for Sisters book?

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Q. I thought I recall you mentioning a book a friend of yours wrote or compiled that was a great read for return missionaries trying to re-adjust to post missionary life.... If so, what is the name of it?  My sister comes home from her mission in two weeks and I wanted to buy it for her.

A. Nicole, you were not dreaming this book really exists. It's called Tell Me About It, Sister: A Guide for Returned Sister Missionaries written by my friend  Andrea Faulkner Williams.
(Sister to your favorite craftster The Alison Show)

This refreshing book is oozing with personality--written in a fun, familiar voice. It covers everything from depression to relationships and wardrobe encouragement. Why wasn't this written when I came home? I had to bumble about making really awful choices.

Hint: unless you're certain you REALLY like him, DON'T MAKE OUT WITH YOUR FORMER DISTRICT LEADER OK? Yikes, learned that one the hard way.
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You can buy them online at Amazon AND the BYU Bookstore! Online here or in-store.
Go get 'em Cougars! Grab some chocolate-covered cinnamon bears while you're at it.

p.s. I was honored to write the forward of the book. Only, after getting my first copy I realized my ending was a little weak. So if you buy this book for the RM Sisters in your lives (and I think you should) before wrapping it up in a little bow will you edit my last line please? Like this:

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Happy Reading!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Dance Love!

Happy Friday! I can't believe I posted 4 times this week! I must be coming back into my body. Does that sound weird? That's how it feels to me.

I wanted to share this video with you, it's DANCE LOVE by the Millennial Youth Pirates featuring Mindy Gledhill and the dancing luger Kate Hansen. WARNING: it's a catchy little number and you might be listening to it all day. Also WARNING: I have a dancing cameo with Mayor Curtis. ANOTHER WARNING: There is a shot where I am NOT dancing because I am trying to control my bladder.

But you'll be happy to know that as I come back into my body I have more bladder control. Oh my gosh why do I share these insights into my life? I guess I have dignity-insensitivity?

Anyway, enjoy:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cool Summer of '14

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Our summer so far looks like:

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1. On the first day of summer I decided to become a plus-sized thirtysomething postpartum fashion instagrammer. Because WHY NOT? It's an underrepresented conglomerate. And people were so kind to me! The response was very encouraging. So encouraging that I sorta became self-conscious. It only lasted a week. Maybe a plus-sized thirtysomething postpartum fashion instagrammer just isn't in the cards afterall. And listen Fashion Instagrammers of the World, I am sorry I ever thought your work was easy, that was harder than coming up with things to blog about. And posing is really awkward. And finding new places to shoot at home is really taxing. And self-timers are tricky. I bow down to you, my friends.
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Also p.s. I don't think my work here is finished. 

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2. As per my "taking special care of myself in my postpartumness" I am working out with a trainer. Her name is Sara. She's also my Relief Society President. Does your Relief Society President come to your house and stretch the hell right out of you? Mine does. She's helping me understand that it's pretty important to strength train when you're a mom with four young children. My life is very physically taxing and energy-draining. Lots of pushing, pulling, carrying, wiping, running, folding, holding and let's face it, loving. I think you get a work out just nursing a newborn every two hours. Anyway, Sara is both a great trainer and RS Pres AND FRIEND!

p.s. She's taking more clients, email me if you're interested.

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3. Also I am in a relationship with a dietician. It's a client/dietician relationship but it's still hot. She's teaching me HOW to eat. I missed that human skill somehow. Anyway, currently I am taking a photo of everything I eat and answering this question: WHY AM I EATING THIS? And yes, sometimes the answer is BECAUSE I AM LONELY AND THIS RITZ CRACKER LOOKS LIKE A GREAT FRIEND. In all caps. Of course.

p.s. I am lonely because my Christopher works a lot out of state and sometimes I just miss the fellow and lots of times all the cookies in the world aren't enough to replace "us" you know?

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3. We're listening to this very beautiful, haunting, philosophical album. Adam Klopp's voice actually crawls out of the music and dances on your heart until it cracks in little tiny lines which eventually shatters and leaves you in a daze of the sublime. Go here and try CABIN FOUR.

p.s. Adam is my friend. But that has nothing to do with how much I like this album.

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4.  In an attempt to prepare him for kindergarten, Anson has been working with a tutor named Melany who we would like to adopt into our family if she'll have us. If not, at least we found a tutoring situation that works for us--in our house, with a state certified teacher my son loves! So dreamy. We found Melany through Academic Achievement and BRING ON KINDERGARTEN!

p.s. Academic Achievement also does nationwide online tutoring. Find out more here.

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5. We're getting ready for this by watching a lot of CAN'T STOP WON'T STOP viral videos. This one is our favorite, partly because, well, people are flying bikes into a pond. We're also listening to House of Lewis. This one we listen to daily.

p.s. Mimi Knowles is also a heart throb.

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6. Six years we've lived in this house and never discovered until this year how nice it is to have dinner in the backyard when it's shady and the mountains are stained by the sunset. We're done with having lunch in the direct-sun dining room with a blowing swamp cooler producing the feeling of eating in a full fish bowl.

p.s.  I am SO SO SO grateful for that swamp cooler and a shady backyard. Are you hot too?

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7. I added to my Provo Temple art collection with a Kirsten Sparenborg print. I love it. I especially love that she included that looming Rock Canyon profile in the background. Now I need to find a great frame for it. If you like temples, (AND WHO DOESN'T?) I recommend you check out her incredible collection of watercolors.

p.s. If they ever change the Provo Temple I will hurt deeply. I love the unique 60s architecture. THIS is symbol of Provo to me. DON'T CHANGE THE PROVO TEMPLE. I am starting a campaign.

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8. The Provo Rec Center Pool. Can't get enough and why would you want to?

p.s. I love running to readers at the pool. Thank you for saying hello. Thank you lady last week who touched my shoulder and whispered, I LOVE YOU and then turned off to chase a toddler. I felt your love.

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9. My new goal in life is to do something vulnerable everyday. This is my duckface.

p.s. I can now add that to my pile with "wore a bikini to the community pool" and "wrote a public post about my feelings on female ordination" I am going to be SHAME FREE in NO TIME!

10. We do a lot of this.
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And this.
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And tons of this.
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And in general massive adoration of this:
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p.s. How is your summer going?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Letters to a Young Mormon

I wanted to say thank you to those who wrote such sweet, supportive comments here yesterday. I felt very safe and loved. Thank you for your respect. I feel privileged that you'd spend even a few of your moments here on my blog. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And now!...A SHORT BOOK REVIEW:

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I was sent this book by the great Blair Hodges late last year. I read it in maybe two days and then urged my husband to read it as soon as possible so we could discuss.

But he hasn't.

I found it on his side of the bed where I put it last. (And modeled it down below)(Do I make a good book model?)(You like it don't you?)

So, will you read it so we can discuss?

It's a compilation of letters written by Adam S. Miller to his children about Mormonism. There are twelve letters with twelve subjects ranging from science to sin. It's philosophical, generous and tastes like C. S. Lewis. Although the intended audience is youth, I felt it was pretty advanced in theory--and perhaps better read by parents of youth. However, I wouldn't think twice about giving this book to the teenagers in my life for discussion and debate. I do think it's more elevated than most of the church-related materials they are given presently. And for some, that's a good thing.

On Faith:

"Faith isn't a way of going to sleep. It's the work of waking up. And, in order to wake up, you'll need both great faith and great doubt. In itself, doubt is neither good or bad. Its value depends on what you do with it."

On Sin:

"Shame and guilt are life's way of protesting against the constriction of the too-tight story you're busy telling about it."

On Hunger:

"Living the gospel means learning how to live. It means learning to eat and sleep. Plant yourself in your hunger and let your life grow out of it."

After almost every chapter I had a deep urge to cry at the beauty of what I read. It's a great feast for thinkers. It eases my anxiety that the marriage of intellect and belief in my head will never be reconciled. This book was like a mediator between the two. And when my intellect and my beliefs get along I feel deep joy.

And the chapter on sex is phenomenal. It's remarkable. Indelible.

The book is published by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship and you can get it here. Put it on your shelf next to The God Who Weeps. That's a great start to a solid collection.

Can't wait to hear what you think...

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(Purple glasses.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

To My Mormon Daughters

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Dear Ever, Erin and Iris Eve,

I am writing to you tonight because I think you deserve an explanation from me. The three of you are upstairs asleep, and Daddy is putting Anson to bed by telling him stories about living in the flat, canyonlands of southwest Idaho. I hope they will read this letter too, but I am directing this at you. And I am going to publish it before you ever get a chance to read it, but I think you'll know why.

One day you'll probably hear the name Kate Kelly. And you'll probably ask me my thoughts about her and her work with Ordain Women and her subsequent excommunication. Because this is a conversation we'll have some time in the future, I want to write my feelings now as this event is current. Kate's work with Ordain Women started two years ago, her excommunication came last month--the effects of which are being felt in a huge way tonight as I write this letter.

First, you should know I did my homework. I researched and asked questions and showed up to events so that I could be informed. And this is how it happened.

I met Kate in a funny way. At the very first Ordain Women gathering I decided to go and check it out. I had several experiences I would call spiritual that lead me to believe that ordaining women would be a beautiful, wonderful thing for our church--both for women and men. So when I heard about this group from a media email they sent me, I decided to attend. Aunt Page was really great, and offered to watch you (well, not you Iris because Heaven was watching you) while I drove up to the University of Utah for the gathering. I happened to get there really early (and you know, I'm never early) and anyway, I found myself in the room with Kate Kelly almost alone before anyone else showed up. We introduced ourselves and I said to her, "You're really brave" and she looked around at all the empty seats and said, "Thanks. I have butterflies." And that was it really, then a flood of people started coming into the room until it was standing room only.

Here's me talking to some fellow Mormon feminists (my dear friend) Stephanie Lauritzen and Margaret Toscano at that first meeting. The Salt Lake Tribune shot this photo and ran it:

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Kim Raff | The Salt Lake Tribune (from left) University of Utah professor Margaret Toscano talks with (middle) Stephanie Lauritzen, organizer of "Wear Pants to Church Day", and blogger C. Jane Kendrick before the Ordain Women, an organization advocating faithfully for the ordination of Mormon women to the priesthood, official launch event in the Union Theatre on the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City on April 6, 2013.

I loved the meeting. There was revival and rejoicing but it had those Mormon pioneer vibes about it. I found myself wishing Relief Society was more like that meeting. Women stood up and bore testimony while expressing genuine emotions and human reaction. There was a lot of love in that room. We sang songs and said prayers and talked about foremothers reaching as far back as the Old Testament.

But I decided not to post a profile on their website, mostly because I wasn't ready to be public with my feelings. And I didn't know how I wanted to portray those feelings. It felt good to me to keep them in my heart.

Six months later my friend Sarah talked me into going to the Relief Society General Meeting with her, we took Frontrunner up to Salt Lake City. Our tickets put us in the balcony in the conference center full of twenty thousand women. Twenty thousand! When I sat down my nose started running and as I rummaged through my purse for a tissue a nice sister seated two seats away from me handed me a tiny little bit of a napkin. She said she was a reader of my blog and said some really sweet things to me. She was there with her mom (seated next to me) and as I introduced myself I felt like there was something going on that was bigger than I understood.

And then sometime during the meeting, as her mother was taking vigorous notes and she was watching intently to the speaker, I knew what was gong on. They were Kate Kelly's sister and mother. Isn't that weird? I just knew them, like I had always known them, even though I didn't know them at all! Then, during the rest hymn I asked, "Are you Kate Kelly's mother and sister?" And they said, yes. I had so much love for them.

This may seem sorta silly, the emphasis I am putting into this meeting, but it was really mind blowing to me--that out of all those women I was seated next to them. At the time I really felt like it was a sign from a loving God--not a sign to do anything, but a sign that he put us together that night so that we could love and encourage one another--which we did after the meeting.

Two years later, I went up to a vigil in Salt Lake City for Kate as her disciplinary council was being held in Virginia. Iris, you came with me this time. It was like a huge family reunion. So many people I loved were there--and we were lucky to meet many new people to love as well. We sang and prayed and supported one another. Like that first meeting, Kate was there (probably with butterflies) and many of us talked about hope. A lot of hope.

Iris, here is you and me with my friends Katrina and Jared Anderson, Brooke Lark, John Dehlin and Tresa Edmunds. I want to put a heart emoticon by each of their names:
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The next day I was at Costco when I found out that Kate Kelly had been excommunicated. It felt like someone had kicked me in the stomach. And then I started sobbing--the news made me sad and angry and confused. And Ever, I was late to pick up from your first day of summer preschool because I was trying to stop crying. You were in the office waiting for me. That made me feel even worse. I am sincerely sorry about that. I'll probably never forget it. (I hope you'll forgive me.) 

Second, I want you to know I have a soft spot in my heart for people who bravely live what they feel is ethical and moral, even when it isn't shared by most of their religious community.

I have known many powerfully spiritual woman in my lifetime and most of them are Mormon feminists. Many of these women I met after I had you, Erin. I have been taught by them and loved by them. The closest I ever felt to Jesus was when sweet Joanna Brooks cupped my face in her hands and kissed my cheeks. Someday I will share with you some of the deep, beautiful experiences I have shared with my Mormon feminist friends. I owe them much--they awakened me and brought me out of my stupor of thought. Through them I learned how to heal what made me angry. I learned to feel peace through being proactive.

I want you to know that through the same channels that I felt I should go on a mission, or marry your dad, I also felt like I should pray and hope for women's ordination. I do hope for it. For me and for you and for our favorite person (and neighbor) Jessica and Maya and Mac and even Umi. I pray for it all the time. I pray for it because God asked me to pray for it. I pray for it because I think ordaining women is a wonderful, progressive, positive, inclusive idea.

I pray for it because it will give women AND men more opportunities to serve in more capacities. Right now, women can't marry people in the temple and men are not Primary Presidents. But I know some women who would make poetic temple sealers and I know men who would make the best Primary Presidents. I know women who would be incredibly insightful patriarchs (but we'd have to change that name!) and men who would be amazing compassionate service leaders (hint: your father).

While at the same time, I DO think it's important for men and women (and young men and young women) to have their own time of gathering together with their leaders. I don't want all of church disregard to gender entirely. There is a great benefit to being together as women and as men. I feel that every week in Relief Society. One of the joys of my life right now is to conduct our Relief Society meetings and look at the faces of the women I get to know, serve and love. I look forward to it every single week.

Third, it is my belief that Mormon women will not be ordained until Mormon women want to be ordained. Right now, according to at least one poll, Mormon women don't want to be ordained. In the course of my lifetime I've heard all sorts of reasons--and I've said a lot of them myself--as to why female ordination is a bad idea. Many of the reasons are plausible, some of them are illogical but I want you three to know I've worked through most of them and they no longer sit right in my heart. The only reason why I think God wouldn't want to ordain women is because the majority of women do not want it.

Many women say they've never felt ill effects of gender inequality in the church. I have a lot of thoughts about this sentiment, but mostly I hope we have many more conversations about this topic. To me, it's very obvious that regardless of how women feel in this organization, the truth is we don't have equal opportunities as women. And having gone through years of infertility, I believe we can do better by women in giving them more opportunities to serve using their skills and talents than relying on biological-based gender roles and circumstantial relationship statuses. But again, that won't happen until the women are ready to have those conversations. And the miracle of it is that we are starting to have those conversations more and more. We do have people like Kate and Ordain Women to thank for that.

But I don't believe God doesn't intend for women to be ordained. There is no scriptural or doctrinal declaration proof of this concept. And certainly there is no harm in asking and praying for what is in your heart. After all, this is what lead to the beginnings of our church--and a pattern we often repeat--ask God for what you desire. Ask, knock, ponder, pray, have faith, have hope. There is no punishment in these things. If all three of you came to me unified in asking for something that you  desired--and it was something that was inherently good and safe--I wouldn't turn you down. I think God is the same way.

And for those of us who do want to be ordained, we will carry on in hope. We will practice charity for others and for ourselves. I want you to know where I sit with this issue tonight. It is my desire that by the time you read this letter, and we are talking about this history, you will have the opportunity to be ordained in our church. I want you to know that your mother was one of those who hoped and waited (not always with patience, to be honest, but I'm trying) for that day.

And perhaps if this is the case, you will know that your mother made it public and will probably hear back from many disappointed people, but she couldn't put you to bed one more night without wondering if she were brave enough to write this post. Just like Kate wondered if she could get through that first meeting with all those butterflies fluttering around in her stomach. Just like all the women who came before you who had to step up and say something when they had the option to keep quiet.

One more thing, I decided to tell my ward sisters in a Relief Society lesson I gave that I was struggling with this issue. Afterward, ninety year old Nina came up to me and said she didn't get it. Why would these Ordain Women want to be just like men? I told her that wasn't the case--it's a hope for more opportunities for women. She left me by saying, "I guess I need to open my mind." The next week in Sunday School as we were talking about the Old Testament she probed the teacher on why women were not allowed into King Solomon's temple. And in that moment I hoped maybe something about our conversation the week before sparked Nina's thoughts toward the plight of women--from past until the present. Of course, maybe I am just drawing my own conclusions. But it gave me courage to speak up more often.

Mormonism is our heritage--it's in our bedtime stories and our daily rituals. It's in the way we worship and the way we hope. I am choosing to raise you in this belief system (albeit somewhat non-traditionally) because it can be empowering and enlightening. And I believe we're still shaping our doctrine. Perhaps we've known for quite sometime exactly what we want for the men of the church . . .  and as for the women? It's my belief that we're just getting started.

Join me?

Your mom