22 June 2017

a big day for the little mo

IMG_7846on tuesday, moses had his first haircut!

yep, we caved.

i’ve shared on this blog several times that both ian and i are obsessed with moses’s darling wispy ginger hair and that we were struggling with the idea of cutting any of it off. a couple of times we resolved to go ahead and give him a trim but within hours we would backpeddle and say we should wait, at least until his birthday. it’s a really silly thing, i know, but something about him getting a haircut just made us both feel like he was growing up too fast!

but last week we decided once and for all that his hair was just too scraggly – it was constantly in his eyes and going wild around his ears. before we could change our minds, i made an appointment for him at a children’s clothing shop that has a little haircutting area. i promised ian i would keep every peice of hair that was cut off and that i would send him lots of pictures!

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i seriously had a pitt in my stomach when we arrived for little mo’s appointment – haha! but our kind and sweet hairdresser did exactly as we requested and was awesome at helping to keep moses relatively still and happy. and just like that – milestone completed and no more hair in baby’s eyes! 

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mo even got his hair blowdried, which was for sure his favourite part – that and the watching the fishies in the aquarium in front of his cool salon chair!

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here’s ^^ some before and after photos. he looks pretty apprehensive in both – haha! but we are all digging moses’s new ‘do and are excited for all the many more firsts ahead with this sweet boy!

21 June 2017

ten q&a on a wednesday
{mormonism q&a, part two}

instead of sharing ten random thoughts this wednesday, i thought i would share ten questions (from blog readers) and answers (from me) on the topic of mormonism. i'm really happy to answer any questions about my faith/religion. i still have a few questions that have been left in comments to respond to and will do so in a future post. please remember that anything i've shared here is my personal belief/opinion/experience and does not reflect on the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints as a whole or any specific member of the church. and please remember to be generous and kind in your responses, whether in the comments or in your own head :) i've tried to just run through these ten questions quickly while moses is napping. he woke up in the middle of the night last night with a fever and so we both are feeling pretty rough, so apologies if my answers here didn't come out of my foggy brain perfectly articulate! i hope we all can continue the respectful conversation and valuable sharing of beliefs/perspectives.

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-I follow a few young Mormon people who meet their partners the year after high school, know them for 12 weeks and get engaged?? Surely you cannot know someone that well and be certain for life after 3 months. Why is the young and quick marriage so encouraged? 
-Young marriages and quick engagements. I'm just astonished when I see these super young mormon TEENAGERS or college students get married! I understand why they are rushing it - to be able to sleep in the same bed and live together but it just seems so so young to me to get married. I'm wondering if you had a daughter, if you would like to see her married really young or explore life a bit on her own post college like you did (mission, career, living in an exciting city with friends, etc.).
-I seem to recall when you were writing about having a short engagement with Ian, you wrote about both of your firm commitment to not sleeping or living together before marriage. I would be very interested to hear how your faith impacts yours and those around you decisions related to marriage. I'd be interested in reading your perspective on how this impacted your relationship and how it may have made the dating vs. marriage distinction greater (and maybe even more rewarding!) and if you feel it has any downsides either. 
-Did you and Ian travel together before you were married? And if yes/no, are you glad you did or didn't? 

while marriage is definitely encouraged in the church, it is certainly not expressly encouraged to be "young and quick." this question is a little tricky for me to answer because i didn't get married super young, so i can't speak personally on the reasoning for those who do. i never felt a lot of pressure or urgent desire to get married until i was in my first very serious relationship after my mission - and then the pressure and desire came pretty purely from inside myself. i always wanted to complete my degree, go on a mission, start my career, travel, and live in new places on my own before i got married. everyone, including everyone in the church, is different, and that was just my own experience.

i think there are several reasons that mormons tend to marry early in life. of course the belief that sexual relationships/living with a partner should be preserved for marriage breeds some sense of urgency, as does the fundamental and deeply-held belief that marriage (and parenting) is central to human purpose and progression. mormonism is definitely a strong culture and lifestyle in addition to being a faith tradition, and i think it's pretty easy for two mormons to make a quick connection because they immediately share so many values and probably have similar outlooks on life and goals for the future.

i think there are pros and cons of marrying young and marrying older. i have to say, the longer i am married (having done so a bit later in life than many of my mormon peers) the more i see the benefits of marrying early. because ian and i had 10+ years of independence under our belts before we met, it was (and continues to be!) a real challenge to meld our lives together and achieve the kind of harmony and unity that we really want in our marriage. obviously i do not know the intimate workings of many other marriages, but to me it seems that for my friends that married a bit earlier, the transition from independence to interdependence was a bit smoother. i do not want to encourage my children to marry super early - mostly because i personally was so enriched by my single years and feel that the things i learned before i was married help me to be a good wife and mother and human in beautiful ways - but i also do not want to encourage them to actively put off marriage for many years. basically, i think somewhere in the middle is best. (obviously we don't get to just chose when we find our partner, but we do get to choose our approach to looking!)

waiting until after marriage to live/sleep together has been extremely rewarding for ian and i. of course it has also presented challenges that would have been different or absent if we hadn't have waited, but i believe the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.

to answer the last bit of the questions above, ian and i didn't travel together too much before we were married. we took some road trips and spent a weekend in texas so that i could meet his parents, but we had never traveled internationally together until a few months into our marriage! turns out we are pretty stellar travel partners - that was something i had to have a bit of unexperienced faith in before we got married! i don't have any regrets. 

Since you are married for time and eternity vs til death do us part, that means you are married in the afterlife as well, correct? How does that work if your husband dies young and you remarry? And have other kids with your new husband? Who are you married to when you both die? Also, I know you believe in a polygamist heaven. Men in the afterlife can have multiple wives. How will you feel when you and Ian are in the afterlife and he marries and has children by other women? Can women also marry multiple husbands in the afterlife? If not, why? Does Heavenly Father have multiple Heavenly Mothers? 

yes, i believe that when a couple is sealed in the temple, they are married for this life and in the afterlife (throughout eternity). my answer to the rest of your questions is: i don't know. and i'm okay with that, and look forward to learning about the answers one day. i am actually not totally sold on the point of "polygamist heaven." i would need to do much more study and prayer around that topic to say wether or not i have a personal testimony of it. (and that may be one topic for which no one on earth has completely definitive answers about.) i truly believe that everything will work out, and that god wants what is best for each of us and what will help us achieve our highest potential.

Also I have to say I am really curious about physical/sexual relationships. Do women talk a lot about this at showers and leading up to the wedding itself? My LDS friends all seem really ok being open about sex and its role in a marriage. Are women really open with each other before the wedding? Ie lingerie showers and general advice in this arena? So curious.

yes, mormon women generally do talk about physical/sexual relationships, but obviously this varies widely depending on the woman. having a bridal shower that includes lingerie gifts and advice from married women is not unusual (at least in my experience/among those i know). i was raised in a family that was very open when it came to talking about sex - i had discussions on the topic with my parents from the age of eight, and before i got married i had more detailed conversations with several family members about beginning a sexual relationship with my soon-to-be-husband. while the church does encourage parents to talk with their children about sex throughout their lives, i do wish that there was more openness around sexuality in church culture, and that more efforts were made to educate both men and women before marriage and in marriage. as in any culture that promotes abstinence, taboos and embarrassment and confusion have crept into the rhetoric around sexuality in mormonism, and i think we really need to work to change that.

What is the "priesthood"? Can you tell us more about the blessings that are prayed over people? 

in mormonism, the priesthood is - simply put - the power and authority of god. we believe that that authority was given to prophets anciently (adam, noah, abraham, moses, etc) and was passed from christ himself to his twelve apostles (through the laying of christ's hands on their heads as a physical transfer of that power) during his mortal life. after the death of christ and his apostles, that authority was not rightfully passed on, and did not exist on earth for centuries. in the early 1800s, it was restored to the earth when christ's apostles - resurrected beings - gave it to a new prophet (by the laying on of hands), joseph smith.

today, worthy men are given the priesthood in the same way that christ gave it to his apostles and they gave it to joseph smith. (and every man who holds the priesthood in the church can trace the lineage of that priesthood back to jesus christ himself.) this authority allows those who hold it to administer in the church and to perform ordinances such a baptism and marriage. it also can lend power to prayers over those who are sick or otherwise afflicted - we call these special prayers "blessings." men holding priesthood authority place their hands on the head of the person receiving the blessing and speak as inspired by the holy ghost. sometimes some oil that has been consecrated (prayed over in a specific way) is placed on the afflicted person's head as an additional symbol of healing. when someone receives a priesthood blessing, they are usually not healed instantaneously, and often are just blessed with peace and understanding that god will be with them throughout their trial, no matter how it ends.

-Are there different levels of Mormon practice? I have several friends who are Mormon and one of them does drink hot caffeinated beverages and has gone wine tasting with me. I'm not sure I understand how this fits in and she says that this is what she is comfortable with. I have another Mormon friend who is married and they are not planning on having children. Is Mormon religion supposed to be strict and therefore they are not in good standing? 
-Are there degrees of Mormon-ness? How can some drink coffee and wine and have no problem with it and some are more strict? Is there that much of a free-will factor in your beliefs? Are those things really a matter of personal choice? I know no one can judge them but God, but is there really that much leeway as to which church standards to uphold and which to do if your conscience allows?

yes, as with any religion, there is a spectrum of adherence to both doctrinal and cultural traditions. one of the very most central and emphasized principles of truth within mormonism is that all men and women have been made free to choose for themselves. of course we cannot choose consequences or alter the commandments/requirements of god, but we get to decide personally what we believe and what actions we make. and because mormons are mistake-prone, easily-proud people just like all other humans on earth, sometimes members of the church can be really judgmental about the choices of others in the church when it comes to keeping god's commandments. this is certainly (and ironically) against god's commandments, and church leaders very often admonish members to not judge each other's personal choices (that's our all-knowing, perfect god's job in the end).

there are some bits of mormonism that are more clearly part of faithful adherence to church teachings/god's commandments (indicating being "in good standing") than other bits. for the most part, the line between these is defined by what is required in order to get a recommend to go inside a temple. in order to receive a temple recommend, one is asked if they have a personal testimony in god, jesus christ, and the restoration of the gospel through the prophet joseph smith, if they live the law of chastity (no sexual relations outside of marriage), if they live the word of wisdom (the health code that was revealed to joseph smith and includes not consuming alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea, or harmful drugs in addition to putting good things into our bodies), if they are honest with their fellow man and good to their families, and a few other questions that i can't think of off the top of my head right this minute during nap time :)

i've found that people tend to get pretty laser-focused on things that are visible and easy to measure when it comes to others' personal righteousness. really and truly, the most important part of being a "good mormon" is loving god and loving others - that love is what christ taught and what should and does propel us to keep all other commandments of god.

-If the Mormon church were not true, would you want to know? 

-As I read your blog, I find myself wondering sometimes if you truly believe the LDS church is the "one true church?" You seem to be very open minded and accepting and you seem to find the beauty in all expressions of faith -- not just in LDS expressions of faith. As you are marveling at the beauty of how the Balinese, for example, live and express their faith, are you simultaneously sort of sad for them that they aren't LDS and won't be going to the top tier of heaven (celestial kingdom)? Are you sort of sad for them that they will only be able to go to a lower tier of heaven? 
-The idea of "lower tiers" of heaven for people who live beautiful and faithful lives -- but who do not share my theology feels so very condescending (not to mention a tad silly). 
-Do you think your spiritual experience of feeling like you are in the one true church is unique to Mormonism? What about the billions of people of the planet who get the same confirmation from God that they too are in the right church?

if the mormon church were not true, of course i would want to know! that's why i consistently ask god questions, ponder on my faith, and study out certain spiritual principles and ideas.

while i do believe that the authority to perform saving ordinances (such as baptism and eternal marriage) exist in and only in the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints (and therefore believe that it is "the only true and living church upon the face of the earth" in that sense), i absolutely believe that there is truth in all religions, and that those outside of mormonism absolutely can and do receive genuine revelation of truth from god. of course i want others to experience the joy, peace and love that i have experienced through my faith, and want to share what i believe with those who feel something is missing in their lives or have questions that mormonism can help them find answers to. but no, i'm not "sad" for those that aren't lds, because i believe that we are all on different paths in this life and that we all will, in this life or the next, have a perfect opportunity to qualify for the top tier of heaven (the celestial kingdom). the bit of time that we are on earth, which is just a tiny blip when considering eternity, is a different journey with different elements of and experiences with truth intertwined for each individual. i believe i have much to learn about qualifying for heaven from the peace and meditation of buddhism and the love for fellow man emphasized in the quran and the reliance on christ's grace in many sects of christianity.

i'm sure that my experience of feeling like i have found truth in my religion is not unique to mormonism. i think the people who get a similar confirmation from god about their own religion are indeed being inspired by a heavenly father who loves them and sees the path they are in this life on as good for them. (of course i believe that some messages are getting woefully mixed up in the case of those that think god is telling them to kill themselves and blow up others, or do other awful things.) i'm genuinely excited to see how it all works out in the end, and i'm sure that mormons will be surprised by some things we got wrong!

-I'd be interested to know more about garments! When do you start wearing them, when do you wear them, etc.
-Undergarments. Sorry if this is a personal question but do you really wear them!? I always thought of this as something that only super strict mormons do. I can't picture you or any member of your extended family (especially Shawni and her family) wearing undergarments. Perhaps only when visiting the temple or for religious ceremonies? The honor code around dress seems to be a bit relaxed for some people, especially if you live in a warm climate.

i started wearing the sacred temple undergarments when i first was "endowed" in the temple just before my mission (young adults are usually endowed - meaning they enter the temple and make sacred promises with god - before a mission, marriage or just when they feel ready to make that spiritual step). i wear the garments every day and every night - basically at all times unless there is an obvious reason to not wear them (when showering, swimming, participating in really rigorous physical activity, etc.). when we are endowed, we promise to wear the garment at all (reasonable) times to help us remember our faith and our covenants. many religions include symbolic clothing worn as a reminder and representation of beliefs. i actually genuinely love wearing garments. i am completely used to them, rarely find them uncomfortable (although i do definitely have my moments!), and honestly appreciate the constant reminder. there are a variety of options when it comes to buying garments - different sizes, cuts, and fabrics - so everyone can find what works best for them.

I'm interested in the afterlife. Are you and Ian given a planet? And then you're basically equal to Heavenly Father? On your own planet will you have a Jesus? Will you send your son to your planet to die for the people there? I'm hoping these questions don't seem rude! I know a little of Lds theology and these questions have come up for me (perhaps because of my own misunderstanding!) 

fascinating questions! another batch of queries that i will be excited to learn the answers to one day :) essentially, i believe in eternity, and that all of us have the opportunity to keep learning and progressing throughout eternity. for me, heaven doesn't sound like heaven at all if it's just about kicking our feet up and relaxing - can you imagine how boring that would be for millennia?! i want to keep growing and developing and creating and improving - and i believe that is god's plan for all his children.

Did you feel comfortable as a teen doing worthiness interviews with your bishop? (Forgive me if there is a more official term- I have no idea what they are called) I had Mormon friends in high school who talked about those interviews and I just about died from second hand embarrassment and awkward feelings. Does everyone have to go through those, and from what age? It sounds a little like getting called to the principal's office, but maybe it's friendlier than that? Will you feel okay about Moses or future daughters having these interviews, particularly questions related to sexual habits?
From an outsider's perspective, it seems really wrong for an adult male to speak to girls (and boys! But girls feels more icky) about such personal things. Can parents sit in on these interviews to protect their children?


before sacred ordinances (such as baptism, a priesthood ordination, or entering the temple) happen for an individual, that individual (regardless of age) is usually interviewed by the bishop - their local church leader. this is usually a very positive experience. the ideal (and, from what i understand, the usual) is that the bishop already has a good relationship with the person being interviewed, and it is an opportunity for the interviewee to feel and express faith, confidence and worthiness (or qualification for the ordinance). i don't remember ever feeling uncomfortable in a conversation with my bishops growing up.

sexual purity is a requirement for participating in sacred ordinances. i agree that it feels icky for an adult male to speak to girls (and boys) about sexual habits in a "worthiness interview." this is actually one thing i have been thinking about lately that i feel perhaps needs to change within the church. i'm sure that there is a way to accomplish the goal of evaluating worthiness without putting people (especially young people) in a potentially compromising situation  - such as involving parents or female church leaders.

I'm kind of surprised people aren't asking about the whole coffee and tea being banned (strongly discouraged?) while sodas, hot chocolate, and energy drinks are not. I guess I will :) I love my morning coffee so so much! It's so hard for me to wrap my head around a loving God denouncing something that grows naturally from His own earth. I rarely drink wine, but if something is good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me. Have you ever tried these forbidden things? No need to defend your choices. It's not my business what you eat and drink. I'm just curious if you discuss and weigh these issues openly, or just follow the rules because those are the rules. If ice cream and pizza were added to the list, would you comply? Would brewing some morning coffee at Bear Lake raise eyebrows or be accepted as personal choice/free agency?

i believe (and gained said belief through earnest personal inquiry) that god revealed a law of health to the prophet joseph smith in the early 1800s. i believe that god has clearly indicated that alcohol, tobacco, tea, coffee, and harmful drugs are not for the body and consumption of those things should be avoided completely. i don't understand all of the science behind these substances and their effects on human bodies, but i truly believe that an all-knowing and perfectly loving god has warned us against them and given us the advice to not consume them at all. many religions have health codes like ours.

the health code revealed to joseph smith (which we call the word of wisdom) also includes admonitions to partake of fruits, vegetables and grains and to eat meat sparingly. one big beef (excuse the pun) that i have with church culture/tradition right now, is that generally mormons tend to be very hyper-focused on not partaking of alcohol, tobacco, tea, coffee and drugs but oftentimes do not seem to follow the rest of the word of wisdom - eating healthy things and eating meat infrequently. we are taught very emphatically in the church that our bodies are temples and precious gifts from god that help us become like him, yet there seems to be a trend among (some) members of the church to eat lots of sugar, unhealthy meals, soda, etc. obviously i'm in no position to judge anyone else's personal choices (and surely i need to do better myself!), but i hope that we as a community can become better at living the law of health we espouse more completely.

i have never tried any of the substances that are indicated in the word of wisdom as being not good (in any amount) for our bodies. i personally do discuss and weigh these issues openly - i can't speak for other members of the church, but i would say that most mormons do as well. yes, if ice cream or pizza were added to the list by god (likely communicated through his living prophet), and i gained a personal conviction that that addition was truly divine, of course i would comply. i'm positive that god is the best nutritionist ever - i would trust his advice :) (but man, that would be tough. how did you pick my two absolutely favourite foods for that question!? haha!) if someone made coffee at bear lake, it would raise eyebrows and i'm sure we would talk about it openly.

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happy wednesday! life is beautiful :)

20 June 2017

summer in the city

FullSizeRender (9)it’s so HOT in london this week!

londoners (us included – i can claim that title after two years of living here, right?!) aren’t used to these high temps, and pretty much everyone feels like they are melting. i really dislike being hot, but i’m trying to embrace the heat by seeing it as an opportunity to take moses to discover all the different places one can get wet and splash in london!

last week we played in the fountains on the south bank of the thames (with incredible views of tower bridge) and yesterday we splashed in the fountains at sommerset house. today we are going to the princess diana memorial fountain in hyde park and tomorrow we’ll splash in the reflecting pool at the victoria & albert museum. by the time the heat wave passes i hope we’ll have also had the chance to swim in the pools in hamptead heath. moses loves water so this is all basically a dream come true for him! :)

summer in london is awesome. it’s light from 4am to 10pm, the city parks and pub flower boxes are bursting with blooms, the streets are buzzing with cheerful people, and there’s lots of good options when it comes to frozen treats. and our grand-splash-pad-tour-of-london is making it all that much more fun :) (all this makes up for the stifling heat on the tube and buses and the hoards of tourists that make hot spots so darn crowded!)

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^^ his hair is so delicious but yes, he truly needs a trim. i’m taking moses in for his first haircut today, in just a couple hours! i’ve been trying to capture all it’s scraggly, curly, ginger glory before his hairline changes forever :) ^^
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^^ after our tower bridge splashing, we walked home via borough market. as vibrant, lively and beautiful as ever – now a poignant symbol of london’s resilience and strength in diversity. and especially fun in the warmth of summer. ^^
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^^ last week we went out to wimbledon to visit with a friend from our prenatal course and her son. i can’t believe how big these baby boys are! they are both constantly moving and wiggling, hence the blurry photo! ^^
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^^ that same afternoon, it was a bit windy in the park and mo’s hair kept getting in his eyes, so he got to sport a “man bun” for a little bit – haha! ^^
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^^ summertime also means visitor time. my sister and her family came back through london on their way home (after some adventures in france and switzerland) at the same time my brother josh was in town! we all went to queen mary’s rose garden together last friday evening and it was soooo lovely. (more pictures etc from their visists coming soon.) moses and his cousin isaac have a special bond. they absolutely adore each other. ^^
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^^ i seriously can’t contain myself with all the gorgeous roses in that park. they are insanely vibrant and outrageously beautiful. and the best part is the name plaques – some are just so endearing. ^^
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^^ after a super fun afternoon playing in the sommerset house fountains with friends, ^^ we went back for round two with dad after work!! >>>
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we will be in the states most of july, so we are trying to soak up london summer as much as we can in june!
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