Sunday, September 1, 2013

My LDS Story: Beginning, Catalyst and Decision

I didn't feel like discussing my journey out of Mormonism was necessary. After all it is no one's business by my own. But it seems as if people are talking about my little family without all of the facts, so I've decided to clear the air.

Beginning
Faith was always my most favorite gospel topic. I would read about it and sing about it. I based my life around it. Faith is the hope for things not seen, which are true. Through primary, baptismal covenants, Young Women, Relief Society and temple covenants, I was promised that if I would just have faith, I would not be deceived. And I can attest right now that I believed it 100%. Every single word. I lived and breathed the LDS religion. I was the only LDS member in my high school graduating class. I went to church every Sunday. I went to the temple at least once a month. I served in the Temple baptistry. I paid a full tithe. I attended all of my meetings. I read my scriptures. I prayed. I fulfilled my callings. I bore my testimony of the Prophet Joseph, Book of Mormon and the Atonement frequently. I taught the Laurels. I spoke during sacrament meeting. I was in the ward choir. I was a true-believing member. I based my life around the promptings and guidance of the Spirit.

Catalyst
One Sunday, after church, my husband Christiaan looked like he was going to be ill. His face was white, he looked shaky and his eyes were red and haggard looking. When I asked him what was wrong, he proceeded to tell me that he had watched a video on The Book of Abraham the night before that really disturbed him. Disturbed him so much that he felt sick all through church. Disturbed to the point that he wanted to do more research on the subject.

Christiaan’s journey started at this point. I refused to read anything he was reading, saying that if it didn't come from LDS.org, it wasn't worth reading. But I did listen to the concerns Christiaan had. He is my husband and I love him. I could see he was struggling. He felt like everything he had ever been taught was a lie. He felt betrayed.  He and I sobbed every single night for weeks. Months. He and I continued to pray and read the scriptures every single night, hoping to dissuade his fears. He didn't feel like he was being deceived.

Christiaan and I attended a temple session together in the American Fork temple with the specific intent of feeling the Spirit and finding truth. The session was standard. I felt nothing like peace, the Spirit or any type of confirmation. The best part of that night was when we left. It felt like a huge relief when we stepped out of the temple into the cool night. Like a burden had been lifted upon exiting.  Why didn't we feel comforted?

I confided in my friends during a trip to Las Vegas that Christiaan doubted the truthfulness of the church. I was also confused, but had put up walls and didn’t want my world to shatter around me. I told myself that you can “choose to believe.” While in Las Vegas, I asked if we could attend the temple. I didn't feel peace in the temple like I thought I would. I felt anxious to leave. I didn't feel the spirit.

But I still wanted to “choose to believe” and I decided to do so, I needed to refute the things Christiaan was finding. Over the next few weeks, I began to read journals and documents from reputable sources (FAIR, FARMS, LDS Archives) that did not refute anything that Christiaan had been reading. If anything, the content confirmed the trickles of doubt. I began reading accounts of Joseph Smith (from journals of people who knew him) that didn't match what I had always thought of him. I saw him in an entirely new light. The story I had always believed wasn't 100% correct, but a heavily doctored version of the truth. By compiling a list of Joseph Smith’s characteristics, reading about how he actually “translated” the Book of Mormon, his treatment of those around him and his polygamous nature, I no longer believed that God spoke through him. And with that revelation, everything came tumbling down around me.

I never felt the Spirit warning me of false doctrine. I felt no promptings that what I was reading was incorrect. I know what the Spirit feels like; I know what a prompting feels like. Why wasn't I receiving anything now? I realized it was because what I was reading was true.

I confided in a close friend that I no longer believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I told her how it felt like my world was collapsing around me. Everything I had based my life on was a fraud. She wisely encouraged me to make a pro and con list of the things I loved about the church and the things that I was questioning. You can review some of my list at the bottom of this page.

As I continued to research, my list of why “not to stay” grew and grew and grew. I continued to pray to Heavenly Father to help me…to guide me. I felt betrayed. I felt like if I was being deceived, why wasn't I receiving any help from above? Why wasn't I finding anything or feeling anything to prove all of the research wrong? I had faith after all! I wanted to CHOOSE to believe so I continued to go to church. At church I began to realize that “feeling the Spirit” was just plain emotion – the same emotion I felt when reading a sad story or kissing my children goodnight.

The Decision
It all came full circle – back to faith. I remember memorizing these words during seminary, “Faith is the hope for things not seen, which are true.”  And I finally came to the understanding that believing differently than something legitimately proven isn't faith, it is blindly following. That’s when I realized that I could no longer belong to an organization based in deception. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew I had to leave the LDS Church. I didn't want my children to go through what I had…to have their world crash down around them.

Issues with polygamy and polyandry were my primary issues, but in the end, the fact that Joseph Smith was a philander wasn't what made me leave the church. It was issues like the Kinderhook plates, changed theology in the Book of Mormon from first editions to later ones, and multiple first vision accounts. It was the lack of archaeological, DNA or linguistic evidence that the Book of Mormon is true. It was the way church leaders have dealt with issues in the present day – seemingly unguided by God. It was everything upon everything.

Where We Are Now
We haven't been to church since May 2013 (except for a baby blessing and homecoming). I have no regrets in my involvement in the LDS church, and I believe I am a better person because of the core values my parents taught me. But in the space of six months, I feel like my entire world has shifted. I feel like I know more about myself and the church I was raised in than I ever learned in the past 26 years. My relationship with Christiaan has grown closer than ever. I see the world so differently than I did at the start of this year. And I am better for it. I feel more accepting, more loving and more understanding of those around me. Instead of judging those who don't believe or live the same way I do, I feel love and interest in each person. They are no longer missionary moments or those without truth, they are just people. I feel like a whole new world has opened up to me. I didn't know how stifled I was until I tasted the freedom that I have now. I feel happy and free.

If you are wondering how you should treat us now that we are no longer members, I'd say, the same. Treat us the same as you did before. Don't try to edit yourself or think we don't want to hear about church-happenings. We do. We are still the same people. We are still your friends and your family.

If you have any questions about my decision, please contact me directly. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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To Stay
Past Spiritual Feelings
Want to Live with Family Forever
Uplifting Music/Hymns/Singing
Youth Programs: Duty to God, Personal Progress
Family Pressure
Social Pressure

Or Not to Stay
Book of Abraham
Polygamy/ Polyandry
Kinderhook Plates
Multiple First Vision Accounts (Three)
Mason Rituals=Temple Rites
DNA Evidence (or lack thereof)
Archaeological Evidence
Book of Mormon Errors- (Changed Theology, God changed to Son of God in BoM, White changed to Pure)
Church Cover-ups- (peep stone- how Joseph translated, used the same peep stone he used to treasure hunt to translate plates)
Sidney Rigdon’s Hand in the Church
Carthage Jail- (sent to jail for burning down a printing press– violation of free speech. Martyrdom actually a shootout. Joseph had a gun and fired it at his assailants. )

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Saturday, February 9, 2013

10 Months

I am crazy about this little man. 


His smile is contagious.


And those teeth! So cute...but I already see braces in his future.


At 10 months he is:
Crawling
Pulling himself up
Walking while holding things (around the ottoman, holding onto the couch, etc)
Laughing
Getting into EVERYTHING
Opening cabinets
Giving high 5s
Snuggling
BITING me, clothes, everything with his 8 teeth

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Instagram


 I'm a little late to the party, but I've joined the world of Instagram! Follow me @thehowtogal.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pumpkins, Mermaids and Snow...oh my!

Life has been busy around these parts. Thought I'd take you on a pictoral journey:

I've started running again, thank goodness. "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands, they just don't." E likes to help me stretch.

I don't know how people cart more than two kids in car seats around in the back of a sedan. Perhaps an SUV is in our future?

Why are boots so much cuter on little people? My usual thrifty self just can't help buying every pair I see for her!
W turned seven months this past Friday. 

Milestones:
Crawling (at six months), sitting up (five months), two teeth (and two more on the way), eating solid foods. He giggles when you tickle him, kiss his belly, play peek-a-boo with him or simply look in his direction. He brings so much laughter and joy into our home.

He is the happiest baby I know. Smiles at everything.

C has been taking a lot of trips lately and recovers from jet lag with a monkey-clad E.

See what I mean? He is ALWAYS smiling. Love him.

One of E's favorite things to do is paint. This picture shows her finger painting, but she also loves water colors. The other day her hands were covered in paint and she decided to sing "If You're Happy and You Know it, Clap Your Hands." Needless to say, I am still cleaning up paint splatters...

Took the kids to a pumpkin patch with a bunch of other kids from our ward. There was a pit full of corn kernels that E loved. Me...not so much. Blech!

E's favorite thing to say, "I love my baby brother sooo much! He is soooo cute!"

For FHE we took the fam to a different pumpkin patch to pick out our traditional pumpkins to carve. C turned out to be the only one who actually carved his pumpkin. E painted hers with sparkly blue paint.

She certainly has attitude. I thought I had at least 10 more years until I had a teenager??


Halloween was so much more fun this year with a kid old enough to go trick-or-treating.


E wasn't sure what she wanted to be for Halloween. A witch, whale, cat, rock star and mermaid were all on the list. Luckily, she chose mermaid and I got crackin' on a super cute mermaid costume.

She was so cute!


Trick-or-treating at Aunt D's and Grandma B's house.


Out in our neighborhood. Look at the smiley little giraffe!
Trick-or-treating was so much fun with E. By the end she had it down to a science. Knock. "Trick-or-Treat Please!" (her phrasing, not mine). "Thank you! Happy Halloween!" Run to the next house. The weather was perfect. All we needed was a light sweater.

November 8- Eight days after Halloweeen, Utah was covered in snow.

E started screaming, "It's snowing, it's snowing! Can we go play?" So I bundled her up, strapped on the baby bjorn with baby W and headed out into the blizzard.


She LOVED it. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

August 2012

August wasn't quite as busy as July, but we still filled it up with fun in the sun with friends and family.

Baby W is getting so big! He wants to sit up by himself but can't quite do it yet. He loves to be held, makes cute cooing noises and is really fun to interact with.

Island Park with the Pettingills
The Pettingill Family, Jeremie, Sharla, Mason and Dustin.

The Pettingills invited us to come spend the weekend with them at their family's cabin in Island Park, Idaho. We were so grateful for a chance to get away!


Emiline and Mason were fast friends, playing together constantly the moment we put them together.

Hiking


Chilling

William LOVES the Bumbo now...thank goodness! Carrying him around in the baby Bjorn gets pretty old. I can finally make dinner or clean the house without a baby strapped to me.

Boating



We had such a fantastic time. The weekend was filled with boating, hiking, s'more making, delicious food eating, movie watching and game playing. We even went to church! In Island Park, because there are so many visitors, they have a special A-frame building where they hold a testimony meeting each Sunday. It was standing room only until after the Sacrament was over, then we were able to find a seat for the rest of the meeting.

Thank you Sharla and Jeremie for such a fun weekend!


My Babes

I still can't get over the fact that these precious babies are mine! I love them to pieces and am so grateful to be their mother.


Why yes mom, I am completely darling!

 National Etsy Craft Day 
August 25, 2012
 I hosted the Orem, Etsy Craft Day party at my house. We made map-inspired home decor with the theme "Wish You Were Here." You can read more about the party HERE.


Elisse Comes to Utah
 My friend from high school, Elisse, came to visit for a few days. We stopped by Temple Square, ate at The Blue Lemon (delish!) and had a great time in and around Orem.


I've also been working on my sewing skills on all that fabric I bought from the LA Fabric District. So far I've made two skirts for myself. Next up, a dolman-type shirt for Emi. 

July 2012

July was a really busy month for us. It seemed as if every week we had a party...or two and WE were hosting them!

My Birthday

Christiaan took me out to the Cheesecake Factory with our little family. If you ever go, you must try the Bang, Bang Chicken. SOO good. Mom, you'll be super disappointed to know that I told them to replace the shrimp with chicken! Come with me next time and you can have all of my shrimp :)


Fourth of July
The morning of the Fourth, Christiaan's Aunt Dru picked me up on her scooter and we headed off to run in the Freedom Run. I beat my PR from last year. Three miles in under 30 minutes.

After the race we headed down to Provo Center Street to watch the parade.


William's Baby Blessing
To say my little townhome was packed would be an understatement.



The spread of food.


So happy to have Heather's friend Lila there. She helped a TON, making all of the pulled pork sandwhich buns for me!

Baby William was the center of attention...and slept most of the time!

 Christiaan gave a beautiful blessing. I am so grateful to have a worthy Priesthood holder in our home who loves and cares for me and our children so willingly.


Seven Peaks with the Pettingills

Emiline's 3rd Birthday
For Emi's birthday, we wanted to get her a big girl bike. MAJOR parenting fail on my part...who knew that bikes came in different sizes??? This one is too big for her. Oh, well, it will be perfect for next year!

Emi loves cupcakes so we sprung for a giant cupcake, cake for her party! Other items on the menu were hamburgers, chips, homemade ice cream and fruits and veggies.

All the girls at the party. Thanks for the awesome face, birthday girl...
 
Papa Roger and William

Sixth Wedding Anniversary
No pictures, but Christiaan took me out for a nice dinner sans kids (thank you Heather and Roger!)

Fun in the Sun
Took a break from partying for a little slip n' slide fun
 
Hailey's Baby Shower
Mini donuts, mini tacos, tiny melon ball cups, mini cupcakes, shot glasses with veggie dip and tiny veggies, mini cookies, strawberries and small lemon-blueberry breads. The drink was a delicious pink limeade in mason jars and vintage paper straws.

  You can read more about the party HERE on my How-To Gal blog.

 Of course when you come to my house, crafting is involved!

Everyone made a onesie for Baby Clark.



And then we all dropped in exhaustion....July was so busy!!