Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Dear Mothers of LGBT Youth,

I am not a mother. Many of you will think me unqualified to write on this topic. But here are my qualifications: I work in a high school with teenagers, I listen to them, I feel for them, I am still one at heart. Having said that, maybe I don't know anything. But I know this: when I hear that a close friend of one of my favorite students committed suicide because she told her mother she was lesbian and then her mother kicked her out of the house, I stop for a minute. And I wonder. I wonder why. Why, when a child comes home stoned or drunk, or pregnant, or having gotten someone pregnant, or expelled from school, or brought home by the police do we tear our hair out, lock them in their room and send them to therapy and rehab but when they come home and tell you something that they have been afraid to say out loud for so long because they know how it will sound, do we deprive them of food and shelter? That is quite possibly the most unChristlike behavior I can possibly think of. I don't care if you think homosexuality is a sin. So are drugs and sex outside of marriage. But we don't throw them out for those things. There is a line, obviously. Abuse within the home warrants removal from it, but within boundaries, always. But I'm not talking about those things. I'm talking about your child coming to you and saying those two words that have become synonymous with a descent directly and immediately to Hell, "I'm gay." That is not the time for the boot, it is the time for an increase of love. By all means, set boundaries. But remember, always, that your child is not only yours. They are God's, and they were His before they were yours. God never stops loving us. Don't ever make the mistake of making your child fend for themselves prematurely because they told you their deepest secret. After the movie Frozen came out, there were a lot of people who either liked or hated the song Let It Go because they said it was about homosexuality. But let's say it is. Like any secret, it will consume until it destroys. Would you rather your child suffer in silence, or confide in you to obtain support? Now, I don't know all the circumstances of this situation, but this isn't the first instance I've heard. Just don't throw them out for stupid reasons. That's all I'm saying.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Hard Challenge

I have been thinking a lot about the word "hard" lately. I hear that word a lot whenever I tell people what my degree is in. You see, I have a bachelor's degree in Chemistry. I had to take math and physics and science and everyone inevitably says something along the lines of, "I hated chemistry. It was so hard!" I think it's so funny that we hate things that are hard, even after the fact. People say that about things before they even occur. "I can't do that, it's too hard," or "That sounds hard!" The funny thing is, I don't usually think of things the same way other people do. Everyone else seems to use the word "hard" synonymous with "impossible." Because what are we really saying? Something hard is something impenetrable, like a rock or a wall. Something that withstands our efforts to break it down. It's hard. But I've decided to replace the word "hard" with "challenge," and I'll tell you why. Because a challenge can be overcome. A challenge is something we can face. A challenge makes us smile and run forward because we want to prove that we can do it. And when you think of life as a challenge, rather than hard, it becomes much more manageable. Everyone seems to think that I'm some sort of genius because I majored in chemistry. Believe me, there are smarter people out there, lots of them. Truth be told, I struggled in my upper level classes. I failed my last math class. Not once, not even twice, but three whole times! But I finally passed it. Why? Because I didn't see it as hard. I saw it as a challenge that, if given sufficient time and practice, I could overcome, and I did. So, here's my challenge to you: replace the word "hard" with "challenge" and see what happens. See what it is you can accomplish all on your own if you believe in yourself, and in that God who gave you breath and life and the drive to win. Remember who you are. You are a child of a Heavenly King, and He will not let you fail, if you take His hand.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

His Precious Blood

His precious blood He freely spilt
His life He freely gave
LDS Hymns, 195

For some reason, as I was singing that on Sunday, the thought occurred to me that He gave up His life because He counted it as naught, nothing, worthless. But that was quickly replaced by the thought that Christ knew exactly what He was. Who He was. I posted once about what Christ was willing to pay for us. But, what did Christ think of Himself? In the Doctrine and Covenants, he refers to Himself as "God, the greatest of all" (D&C 19:18). Now, we all know that. But the fact that Christ knows it about Himself just hit me like a ton of bricks. He knew what He could do, He knew what He could accomplish, and He went out and He did it. It wasn't pride, it was humility in its purest form. He knew exactly who He was, and He wasn't ashamed of it. He didn't hide it. He didn't shy away from it. He embraced it, gave everything He had to it, and came off conqueror. What if Christ had doubted? What if He had learned who He was, and gone, "Nah, that's too unbelievable." Yet, that's what we do all the time. We sing "I Am a Child of God" from the time we can speak, and how about the classic, "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam"? At some point, we decide that's just not true, Jesus doesn't want us, and we couldn't possibly be children of God. We don't go around saying it in words, but our actions scream it. Every time we put ourselves down or say we couldn't possibly achieve something, we are saying that it's just not who we are. But what if it's exactly who we are? That's not to say that we all have to go out and be rocket scientists or pop stars. Maybe it's just that you want to learn how to crochet, but you never do because you don't think you can. Or maybe you don't think you could scrapbook as well as your neighbor. Do it anyways. Whatever your goal is, just do it. And that's my two cents on the subject.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Truth Will Out

Lots of people over my lifetime have tried to convince me that my beliefs are wrong. Which, I guess is only fair, because there are thousands of missionaries all over the world trying to do the same thing. Some people told me that it doesn't really matter what church you belong to, as long as you believe in Jesus Christ. Some people argued that their church was correct, and mine was wrong. Again, only fair, in the grand scheme of things. I have tried to think of it from their perspective. Someone knocks on your door, and tells you that their church is the right one, and yours is wrong, and we'd like you to join ours. Then they proceed to tell you that a fourteen year old boy went into the woods, God Himself, and Jesus Christ appeared to him, told him that none of the churches on the earth were correct, and not to join any of them. As if that didn't sound crazy enough, a few years later, he was praying again when an angel named Moroni appeared to Joseph and told him that a book, written on gold plates, was hidden under a rock near his home, and he was to go get them, and translate them. It sounds like something out of a fantasy novel. It sounds nuts. So, let's play the What If Game for a moment. Let's say for a moment, that it's not true. Joseph Smith never saw God, the Book of Mormon is the result of an overactive imagination and greedy mind, and millions of people all over the world have been brainwashed. It wouldn't be the first time. But, let's say it is true. Joseph Smith saw what he saw, translated a history, and restored the true Church of Jesus Christ to the earth. I have had so many people ask me questions like, "If it's really true, what about this?" The "this" can be almost anything. But, unfortunately, that's backwards. The way we learn isn't by knowing everything at once, otherwise my brain would have exploded in about week two of being a chemistry major. I learned first that molecules exist, then what they do, then what we can do with them. The first thing to do is to figure out if Joseph Smith really was a prophet. You find that out by praying. If you don't feel anything, happy living! What we, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints invite everyone to do is to pray, and listen. We know that if you pray with real intent, you will feel the truth of it. Real intent means you really want to know whether it's true or not. If you're already convinced it's false, what can God tell you? It sounds presumptuous to say that if you're not getting a yes answer, it's your fault. But, there it is. If you don't care, then don't worry about it. But, wouldn't you want to know the truth? If it is true, and all the blessings we promise, like eternal marriage and families and happiness here on earth, are real, then wouldn't you want that? Does all the finger-pointing matter, when all is said and done? It comes down to this: either it's true, or it isn't. I testify that it is. God and Jesus Christ appeared to a fourteen year old boy, and restored the true Church to the earth. The Book of Mormon is true. It really happened. Once you know that, all else will come. Of that I testify, in the name of my beloved Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Piano Recitals and Flat Tires

I was young, maybe six or seven, I can't remember exactly. It was my first piano recital. I was all dressed up in my Sunday best. My parents were sitting three or four rows back in the Primary room at the Church. I waited anxiously for my turn. When it came, I walked to the piano, although to this day I don't know how I made it, with my Jell-o legs. With shaking hands, I hit the first chord. The song was from the LDS Children's Songbook, called "I Wonder When He Comes Again". The song is just short of two pages long, and about halfway through it, the notes from my memory and the muscle memory both flew right out my brain. It was gone. I sat there, hands shaking worse than ever, panicking, blood rushing to my fingertips as the impulse to flee threatened to overcome me. Just before I could convince my near-liquid legs to take on the weight of my body, I heard something. A whisper. It was my teacher, sitting in the front row, just to my right. "She can do it, I know she can do it." That's what she said. The possibility of running away now entirely out of the question, I sat there, nonplussed and confused. I couldn't remember the song, but I couldn't very well leave now, not with my teacher showing such confidence in me! What a pickle. But then suddenly it came to me. I remembered! I started exactly where I'd left off, and when I finished the last chord, and the sound died away, I stood, and grinned, first at my parents, and then at my teacher, courtseying as my teacher had instructed.

A couple years ago, I had some business to attend to at BYU. I drove my mom's car into the parking lot, parked, conducted my business and returned-only to find that in my absence, one of my tires had deflated. Flashing back to my first time on the road, which involved a curb, a flat tire and a lesson in which pedal is which, I knew exactly what to do. I opened the trunk, retrieved the necessary elements, jacked up the car, and proceeded to loosen the bolts. Except that they wouldn't budge. At all. It's like they were welded to the hubcap. When my arm strength proved too weak, I resorted to my legs, since they are larger muscles, and I could stand and put my weight on it. I must have looked pretty silly, stomping on the bar over and over again, with increasing frustration evident in the increasing force with which I brought my foot down. In the midst of this, I heard from behind me a male voice saying, "Whoa! Whoa!" as though I were beating a puppy. I turned and he walked over, indicating that he would assist me. Feeling a little hurt, I nevertheless conceded the mechanism to him. He took the bar, and began to struggle, first just a little and then with all his might. It wouldn't budge. Feeling vindicated, I looked at him, and he looked back at me. His chivalrous act was disintegrating before his very eyes. Eventually, he resorted to my own form of attack, and began stomping on it. I'd like to think that I loosened it for him, but he did eventually get the bolt loose, and then the others as well. We got the spare tire secured, and I thanked him for his help. It's hard to say who's pride was wounded more in the encounter.

In the first incident, I practiced for weeks upon weeks, memorizing and agonizing. In the second, it was a complete surprise, as was the complication. In either case, help came precisely when it was needed. In both, I knew what I was doing, but it didn't hurt to have a little extra push in the right direction. However things come our way, we can always rest assured that our Heavenly Father will never leave us stranded. Whether it's in the form of whispered words of encouragement or a proverbial Knight who comes to the rescue, even when we could probably do the job ourselves, He will never leave us alone. He always knows what we need and how we need it. All we have to do is learn to recognize and accept it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

I Was Pretty Sure

Almost ten years ago now, I graduated high school. The early Arizona summer was in full swing so the school provided water so that we would all be good and hydrated. At the table where the water cups were stood my sophomore geometry teacher, whom I had liked very much. Jokingly, I asked her, "Never thought I'd make it, did you?" To which she replied rather matter-of-factly, "No, I was pretty sure you were going to make it." I have thought about that experience ever since that day. Even my flippant disregard for my own abilities was met with an attitude of confusion and disbelief. She believed in me, she had always believed in me, and made sure that I knew it. I don't even remember her name, but I remember her face and her words.

The musical Les Miserable contains within it a song called Bring Him Home, a very touching song about one man's wish for another's well-being, even at the expense of his own. He pleads for God to give rest, peace and life to the poor soul whom he loves dearly. His plea is similar to Christ's plea for all of us. Even in his pronouncement that Marius is like the son he might have known, he is echoing the words of King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon that we become the sons and daughters of Christ through faith. If you listen to it from this perspective, Christ is pleading for each of us to return to Heavenly Father, even at the expense of His own life.

The story of the Candy Bomber is one that I love. One soldier who orchestrated a world-wide effort to deliver not only candy to the children of East Berlin, but also hope. The candy represented much more than momentary pleasure for the recipients. It represented love from some unknown person, and undoubtedly came in moments of desperate need to buoy up the spirits of those caught in the turmoil of the time.

Jesus Christ can be each of these things to us in times of need and in times of plenty. He can be that voice that says, very bluntly, "I know you can do it." He is our advocate, pleading our cause, aching for our return home so that He may embrace us and show us how very much He loves us. He can be our Candy Bomber, dropping packages in the form of the right person or word at the right time. Sometimes, He simply wants us to know that there is indeed someone out there, closer than we may think, who loves us. The thing is, He is always there, speaking, pleading and gifting. Sometimes, though, we may turn a deaf ear, turn prideful or be blinded by the turmoil in our own lives, missing the sweet things raining down on us from Heaven.

I have often wondered why it is so important that Christ came as a child, and why we celebrate it. I think it is imperative to understand that Christ came as He did precisely so that He could be the Advocate we need. What better advocate than one who can say, "I have stood where they stand, and can testify of their tribulations"? It is the very fact that He grew from an infant to the Man who died on the cross that He can be our Savior. Were it any other way, He could not be who He is. That is why we celebrate His birth. That is why we celebrate His life. That is how He can succor us. May we open our eyes, ears and hearts to our Savior, especially at this season. Merry Christmas, and God bless us, every one.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Video Testimony

These are two videos I made to express how I feel about the Savior and His life:
Thanks for watching, please feel free to share and post, they are meant to uplift those who need it!