Sunday, September 25, 2016

Blackberry Transplant

It was a pretty typical week this last week. We went to singing time at the library, The girls had their dance classes. Corbin went to scouts. We had a play date. I went and volunteered at the school. We cleaned the house a million times. I am amazed at the volume of messes that can accumulate in a matter of minutes around here. It's like a mess bomb has gone off multiple times a day. That gets really old. Clutter messes get to me and if I'm not on it constantly (which most times I'm not) the house is thrashed all the time. I think that's probably the hardest thing for me about our current stage of life right now. I don't know if it's because we have a lot of kids in a small house or what but it's a constant battle. When everything is cleaned up it's an instant lift. It's amazing. I love it when the kids are in bed and the house is clean and I can watch a show with Scott. Simple pleasures of life.

On Friday my parents came through Boise to go to the airport. They went to Seattle because Kelsey is having her baby blessed today. We went to lunch at Cafe Rio (yum) and then I dropped them off at the airport. I will be picking them back up tonight. After lunch with my parents I drove to the hospital to see Gabe and Christy's new baby. I believe he is still nameless. He looks a lot like Brigitte. He's so tiny. I can't believe how little newborns are.

Yesterday Scott took the kids on a blackberry adventure. He has been wanting to do this forever. It started a little rough when Ryan tripped and fell immediately two times (I swear that boy is blind or just seriously uncoordinated). Piper almost immediately was crying because she wanted to come home. After tears were wiped they were able to have some fun and find some wild blackberries to dig up. He has planted them in our backyard. I hope it works. He planted some raspberry transplants years ago and they have amazingly flourished back there even though nothing seems to grow well back there. Fingers crossed it works. Scott is seriously so excited about it, you'd think he cured cancer he's so excited. Ha. I can't even tell you how much I love to be at my house during the day all alone. Such precious moments. I love when Scott takes the kids sometimes and I get to enjoy my house in peace and quiet. So good!

For the first day of fall Gabby's teacher had them do several projects with fall leaves. She sure loves school. This morning she said she couldn't WAIT to go to school tomorrow. 

Ryan is entering that awkward stage where they need a nap but don't need a nap. This is him on a day when he didn't take a nap and he fell asleep on the floor at 5:00 pm. That's the best!

Scott took a picture of the kids room before they destroyed it. Ha.

Blackberry hunt!

Blackberry transplants. Hopefully they work!

No name baby boy Beal. Precious! 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Not your typical week.

Well aside from "coming out" to the world about our current decision to not go to church anymore other things happened this week as well. I spent practically all day on Thursday responding to e-mails, texts, and private messages. I got SO MANY. To quote Olaf from Frozen "all good things, all good things." People have been kind which is so good and even though I know that so many hearts have been broken over this people have tried to be as supportive as possible. I haven't heard from a lot of people that I would have expected to hear from but I think it takes time for people to process. I also think that some people are sticking to idea from Bambi, "if you can't say something nice don't say nothin' at all." Okay anyway enough Disney references.

One of my book club friends had a baby last week and she died after 22 minutes. She found out at her 5 month appointment that the baby had a lot of problems and wouldn't survive. She ended up having her baby about 3 months early. I think that was a blessing. The baby was going to die anyway and to endure 3 more months of people's questions about when she was due and things like that would be terribly painful. I went to the funeral yesterday with a couple of other book club friends. It was very sad but a beautiful service. This was the first non-Mormon funeral that I've been too. My book club friends are deeply religious Christians. Afterwards the three of us that came together went to brunch. The place was packed and it took them an hour to bring us our food. It worked out though because I had a lot to talk to them because of all of my religion drama. It's nice to talk to outsiders about this kind of thing.

We had a talk with our kids today about how we weren't going to be going to church anymore and some of our reasons why. We told them that it was okay if they were different from their cousins and friends. We talked a lot about our family values and asked them if they had any questions. They seemed to be okay with it. Piper loves her primary teacher so she was a little sad about that.

Tonight we had a family get together at Hart and Jory's house for Brynn's 18th birthday. I can't believe she's 18! That's just crazy. She's a beautiful, talented girl.

Piper quotes:
When I was dressed to go to the funeral yesterday Piper asked me if I was going to church and I told her that my friend's baby had died and that I was going to the funeral. She replied, "Moms have freinds! That's crazy!" Ha.

"Dad where's mom?" Scott:"She'll be back in a minute." "Dad, I love mom so much, I want to MARRY HER!" Ha.

I made rolls this week and Piper helped me. She rolled out her own dough and cut them and rolled them up. She did good!

Piper was terrified!

What the heck. Gabby tried to eat a huge handful of powdered sugar and then sneezed or something...

Ryan's block creation.

Silly boy

Gabby made a tent you see in the back and a campfire. I love how her creative brain works. I DON"T love the messes she can make in 5 seconds flat.

Cute Brynn in blue. On the right is her friend Tyler. He gave her a photo album of pictures of them since they were little. It was super cute. Their parents have been close friends forever and they hang out all the time and have gone on lots of vacations together. They should totally get married some day. Ha.

Gabby art

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Leaving Mormonism?

Leaving Mormonism? That is something that I never thought would be in the realm of possibilities. I loved it. I lived it. My testimony was always so strong, so sure. It’s not something I thought could happen. Ever. Life has a way of surprising you and kicking you in the butt. This blog is kind of my journal and a chronicle of my family. The last two years have been very difficult and I haven’t blogged about any of it. I think it’s time to write about it now.

In August of 2014 Scott disclosed to me a very secret 20 year porn problem. The life that I thought I had was gone in an instant, like a puff of smoke. 6 months prior to his disclosure Scott had a faith crisis. He had always been bothered by the priesthood ban and had studied the issue throughout the years trying to find reasons justifying it. When the church came out with their essays Scott read the essay about the blacks and the priesthood and it rocked his world. The essay more or less admits that the ban was not from God and that it was a mistake of man and that the church disavowed any racist statement of the past. If the church could be wrong about that what else could they be wrong about? Scott has had an ongoing relationship with pornography since he was about 14 years old. He’s also had an ongoing death wish and was very suicidal at different periods in his life. He never felt good enough. He never felt worthy. If someone would compliment him he would think, “Well if you really knew me you wouldn’t say that.” His only hope he felt was to get worthy and die somehow. Despite his feeling of unworthiness he was worthy enough to serve a mission and get married in the temple. He had a temple recommend the whole time we were married, he served in high leadership callings, and for years he cleaned the temple for 3 hours every week. I had no idea he had this problem.
Scott felt if the church could be wrong about black people having the priesthood maybe they were wrong about sexual sin (including porn) being the sin next to murder thing as well. One night after a relapse instead of his usual please forgive me and please be patient with me prayer he prayed to ask God about it. He asked God if looking at porn made him a bad person. He asked God if he had hated him all this time. The answer he got was that God did love him and that looking at porn didn’t make him a bad person. He broke down in bed sobbing the next night telling me that he felt like God loved him for the first time.

Before his disclosure to me he asked me to listen to some podcast episodes on Mormon Stories. One was on pornography addiction and another one was better sex in your Mormon marriage. He also throughout the years tried to complicate things for me when someone had gotten divorced over porn. He would point all of the good qualities that person had and how reductive a porn addiction label could be. He tried to prep me as best he could so that he could one day feel safe enough to tell me about his own relationship with pornography.

I knew something was going on with Scott especially after he broke down sobbing in bed that one night. I didn’t ask him about it. I just waited until he was ready to talk to me about it. Scott finally felt ready and he felt like I was ready to hear it. He was wrong. The night Scott told me I took it really well. I was so happy he had finally opened up to me. He was so alone for so long. So many things made sense to me. I knew when we were dating that he was very suicidal his freshman year of college, now I knew why. It made sense that frequently at night he would have almost a panic attack and tell me that he thought everything in his life was going to disappear. Everything made so much sense. I was happy to know, that night.

The next day I felt like the life I thought I had was over. The weight of pornography addiction was too hard to bear. Not only that, but Scott had basically made peace with his pornography use.  After his prayer to God that night he decided he wasn’t going to fight it anymore. He was going to stop being Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and incorporate it into his life. What he discovered was that his porn use went down. His compulsion went down, and he felt better than he had most of his life. I didn’t know what to do. I felt that no one was safe to talk to. I cried so much. I also prayed harder than I’ve ever prayed in my life. God was the only person who understood the situation perfectly. I didn’t feel judged by God, I only felt love. I felt like I had all bad options. Get a divorce. Becoming a single mom and trying to support my kids and raise them alone because Scott looked at porn sometimes seemed RIDICULOUS; I almost immediately threw that out the window. Force him into a 12 step program? I knew it wouldn’t work, especially if he was going for me and not for himself. Accept him as he was? But how could I do that and not feel like a second class citizen in my own marriage, in my own life. The only way I could do it was to think about porn differently and I did. I stopped giving porn the power to ruin me and my life. I stopped seeing it as a threat. I started to think of it as junk food. Should you live off of junk food? No. Do you crave it and eat it sometimes? Yes. We made it through that difficult patch in our marriage. Our marriage grew stronger and got better after that.

Our problems were far from over however. As time went on I could see that going to church was very difficult for Scott. It drained him in every way. Around the time of his disclosure he was the elder’s quorum president. He asked to be released from his calling. He was very suicidal at that time. I was trying my best to bring my kids up in the gospel while the beginnings of my faith crisis were happening as well. I lead family scripture reading every morning. I went to the temple. I read my scriptures. I had family home evening. But all of it was painful. With Scott’s disclosure I started to really question things in the church myself.

I had two different experiences while reading the Book of Mormon twice in a month’s time. Years ago I was a young women’s leader and our youth were doing a challenge called August rush. The challenge was to read the Book of Mormon in one month. Before the challenge we had a speaker talk to the youth about the Book of Mormon. She gave an excellent talk where she basically explained that all of life’s questions could be answered in the Book of Mormon. How could I be 30 years old and have read the Book of Mormon numerous times and not realized that so much of what we believed came directly from the Book of Mormon. I did the challenge that month and loved realizing that indeed so much of our doctrine and culture came directly from the Book of Mormon. When Scott disclosed his porn use to me it was the beginning of August. I decided I was going to do August rush again. This time my experience was completely different. I read the Book of Mormon with new eyes. I saw how condemning the scriptures could be. I saw that so much of Mormon culture that I didn’t like came directly from the Book of Mormon as well.

I had been bothered by the gay issue for years. I took a parenting class when Corbin was a baby which was a class on basically raising your kids to be faithful latter day saints. She gave a lesson about general conference. She talked about how we should treat general conference like our super bowl. Ya! Get our kids excited. We have a prophet! She also said we should take questions that we want to get answered into general conference and get our answers there. So I decided I was going to pray about my questions about gay people during general conference and get my answer. Well of course the family proclamation seemed to be mentioned in practically every talk. I had my answer. Easy, done. But my questions didn’t go away. Scott’s disclosure blew the cap off of EVERYTHING. I questioned the church’s stance on sexual issues in general.  I remember reading the book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society book and questioning things. One of the characters has a baby out of wedlock. According to Mormon doctrine she has committed the sin next to murder and yet she was one of the most courageous and heroic characters I had ever read about. This book is fiction but it really made me wonder. I knew a mom that wouldn’t let her kids read Harry Potter and she didn’t know why but when it came out that Dumbledore was gay she knew she had her answer. This really bothered me. Dumbledore is another amazing and courageous character and just because he was gay he was what? Evil? I came across the website Far Between with Kendal Wilcox dealing with LGBT issues. Watching those videos broke my heart. Hearing people struggle with their sexuality and their religion was almost too painful to watch. Then I had the issue of my own sexuality to deal with. I felt like I was basically an asexual. I was so good at suppressing my sexuality that I struggled for years in the bedroom. I feel like it took a faith crisis for me to be able to allow myself the space to have any pleasure in the bedroom.

I finally allowed myself to disagree with the brethren about gay people. I was going to believe what I felt was right and I wasn’t going to just be obedient. There are plenty of active, believing members that believe the church is wrong about LGBT issues. I could be one of them.
As time continued going to church got harder and harder for Scott. He could not stand to listen to the same things being preached that had ruined him. He slowly started to go inactive. I could see how painful going to church was for him and I had to let it go. I didn’t want to divorce him because he didn’t go to church anymore.

In April Scott stopped attending church altogether. I could not stand the thought of going to church alone with my four kids and have everyone in the ward look at me and think, “she’s so faithful and strong” when I wasn’t. I agreed that Scott shouldn’t be at church and we were on the same page about most issues. I decided I was going to go inactive with him. I emailed the bishop and primary president. I couldn’t teach primary anymore (teaching those lessons every week was very painful). I emailed my family and close friends. That was the worst day of my life. I have never cried harder. I hated disappointing my loved ones. There were some rough email exchanges in the next few weeks. The first Sunday I was supposed to go inactive was a fast Sunday. I woke up at 5:00 in the morning and felt like I should go to church and bear my testimony so I did. I got up first before the counselor was even done talking. I stood up and told the ward my plan to go inactive.  I told them how my family was devastated and fasting for me. I told them that they were my people and that I didn’t know what I know. I talked about love and compassion the end. The following month Scott came to church and bore his final testimony. He read an 8 page letter telling his church experience and he spoke for about 25 minutes. It was intense. It was sad. It was uncomfortable. Around that time Scott and I also recorded some podcasts with some Mormon therapists. I shared some of those on my facebook page. I was feeling very vulnerable. I asked the bishop to put me in nursery so I could still attend church but not be so exposed. For four months I tried to make church attendance work. I tried to be a middle road Mormon. I am not cut out for it. I have asked to be released and have a plan once again to go inactive.

At different points in this journey I wanted to prove that the church wasn’t true so I wouldn’t feel so guilty about leaving it. I delved into everything including what some would consider anti-Mormon. I discovered with that path for me at least that I couldn’t prove the church wasn’t true anymore than I could prove it was true. If you want to find evidence that the church is true you will find it. If you want to find evidence that the church is not true you will find it. This is where faith comes into action. I felt like I could choose to believe if I felt like that was the right path. Is the church a net positive for many people? Yes. Is it a net negative for many people? Yes. I knew it wasn’t good for Scott but what about me? What about my children? These are the questions that have been CONSTANTLY on my mind for months. I’ve cried. I’ve prayed. I have been struggling with my faith ever since Scott’s disclosure but when Scott went inactive and things came out everything reached its boiling point.

I worry about making a mistake, the biggest mistake of my life. I worry about raising my kids in the church. I worry about raising them out of the church. I feel very alone. I feel very misunderstood. I feel like I can’t talk to anyone because everyone in my life is a believing Mormon and they have all of the answers already. I am heart-broken. I feel like once again I have all crap choices. For now walking away seems like the right path even if it will be lonely and laced with misunderstanding from everyone around me. This is where I am at right now. Where will I be in 6 months? Who knows?

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Piper's Birthday, Cannons Visit

I missed blogging last week because the Cannons came up for labor day weekend for Piper's birthday. We had a fun visit with them. Throughout the visit we played lots of rounds of 5 Crowns, and old maid, did puzzles, went swimming and played video games. We went to the Birds of Prey center, Delsas, the green belt, Pojos, and Five Guys. It was such a fun visit and my kids couldn't love them any more!

Corbin hasn't really been complaining about school very much lately and he hasn't cried or begged to stay home either so that's nice. When I ask him how school is on a scale of 1 to 10 he says 0. I hope he will survive it alright. Gabby seems to still enjoy school and like her teacher although she misses her kindergarten teacher and all of her friends who aren't in her class.

It's been nice to be home with just Piper and Ryan. It is so much easier to run errands with just two and the house is a lot calmer. Piper has been working on writing her letters and she and Ryan like to paint and color.

Yesterday I went to a thrift store with a friend that I'd never been to before. It's where the stuff goes that doesn't get sold at Idaho Youth Ranch. Everything is just tossed in bins. You pay for your stuff by the pound. You pay for furniture by small, $4, medium, $8 and large, $11. I found a rustic coffee table that I love...$4! It was fun. You definitely have to be in the mood to shop at a place like that because it's pretty much a nightmare. Ha.

When I asked Piper which cake she wanted I said, "do you want a chocolate cake or..." She said, "Did you say chocolate!" Ha. That's my girl!

Happy Birthday Pipes!

Picking out a toy with Granny money.

"Did you say chocolate!"

Gabby made a BB-8 for aunt Colie.

Ryan looks so relaxed! Ha.

Cute Papa and Ryan.

Birds of Prey

Green Belt


Gabby left me a picture on the door along with several love notes that said, "I heart mom" Ahh...

$4 table. Scott was like there's a huge stain in the middle...ya rustic!