Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Beware the bloggers!

So, I've had some thoughts bouncing around in my noggin and not entirely sure where this is going, but I shall try to make sense of it. But first an update on the LAZI children.

Luke is in piano, golf, and plays trumpet for school band. We recently went to his band concert and he does quite well for a goober. Luke keeps things light hearted and makes me laugh. He is constantly whistling or singing. He teaches me to always have a bright outlook on life.

Adam went for a spring trip with his band to San Francisco last week for three days. He went to Alcatraz, visited San Francisco University, played in a jazz club, went to six flags, and just had a good time with friends. Tennis is wrapping up with his league tournament this week. He'll be playing more golf with Luke and Isaac now that tennis is finishing up. He also spoke in sacrament meeting. More on that shortly. Adam teaches me constantly how to not take things so seriously and love life.

Zach just finished up his second play this school year over the weekend. He was in 'Footloose' at the high school. He loves drama and has dreams of being an actor one day. He asked why I was watching him the whole time during the play since there were other things going on. Silly kid, that's why I was there to see you shine. Zach continues to teach me how to love and accept others without judging. He has a heart as big as the ocean.

Isaac is also in piano and golf. He's our constant entertainment and giver of hugs. He is always quick to forgive and teaches me to be loving and understanding of each other. 

Christy just returned from a trip to Arizona. She went to an LGBT conference for LDS families. She came back glowing and made some great life time friends. There are truly amazing people involved in the advocacy  of supporting and loving our LGBT brothers and sisters. Some have wondered why people become advocates or allies. My question is, why haven't you? If you read some of the tragedies, heart aches, and hurt inflicted I don't know how you wouldn't become an ally or advocate. But that's just me and my crazy talk.

Greg is finished planting grass for this spring! It was 125 acres, which might not sound like much but it's quite the process to get the seed bed prepped properly, plant the seed, spray chemical and fertilizer, put down netting, put down pipe and irrigate. That's the thing that has occupied much of my time for the past two months, but I'm thankful for great employees that put in all the long hours to get it done. 

So there's the LAZI kids and parents update. Moving on to some of the bouncing of thoughts in my noggin. 

I had one small incident to share about when Christy was working on a Sunday, so I was alone in nursery. Apparently it's in the handbook to have two adult men in nursery. Two is good in case we have to take a child to a parent or something. However, I was a little annoyed. I can handle a few kids by myself and anyone that wants to can walk in the door at anytime is welcome to do so. I asked the bishop why it wouldn't be okay for me to be alone in nursery. He said it's to protect me and the church. Ok, so who's protecting you and the church? Why is it we've accepted the necessity to have two men in nursery, but we don't blink an eye at ecclesiastical leaders that are alone behind closed doors with our children, and aren't to be disturbed? Often to discuss intimate details that really shouldn't be discussed with a grown man. It's okay to have your 7 - 17 year old daughter or son behind closed doors where no one is allowed to disturb? Where's the sense in this? Christy and I will be present in all further ecclesiastical interviews. I think it's wise for any parent to take this precaution. I know the magnitude of guilt and pressure that can be applied by well meaning individuals, and the potential for life long repercussions. 

So as I mentioned, Adam spoke in sacrament meeting. His topic was forgiveness and the atonement. He shared a story about when as a young boy while walking with his Mom he saw a caterpillar on the sidewalk. He was curious about squishing it and realized after doing so, he had killed it for no good reason. He went to Christy and told her he felt terrible and cried. Later he prayed to God to ask for forgiveness. He mentioned how he was scared God may squish him like he squished the caterpillar. I can't express how impressed I was with his analogy, his understanding of the atonement, and that he summarized it by stating we shouldn't be scared to talk with God about our sins or weaknesses and that we are able to gain that forgiveness through our communication with God. The God we believe in isn't here to squish us or make us feel bad about ourselves. We recognize something we did wrong and we correct it and move on. Thank you Adam for sharing your wisdom with us.

So after that, the concluding speaker was our previous stake president. If your sensitive to me saying something in disagreement with church or leaders, you may want to stop reading. I know this man has done many great things in his service and I've never had much of a conversation with him at all, so I say this only going off his message and how I received it. He talked about Sherem from the book of Jacob in the Book of Mormon. Sherem denied Christ and Jacob contended with him. Sherem was eventually smitten by God and died after renouncing his previous claims about Christ. Sherem was highly educated and flattered people with his language and knowledge. The speaker noted that if he were alive today, he would likely use blogs or other technology to spread his word since Satan doesn't use dummies to spread his word. (As a side note, Adam addressed me as Sherem after the meeting. I think because of my blog leading people astray, not for my knowledge or flattery words. He's a funny kid that Adam.) So the speaker tied this into how today one of the great tests is to follow the prophet. That there are many that are conspiring to do evil, even amongst us, that will strive to lead us away from the plan of happiness. That he has seen it and watches those he has called to repentance while stake president and what their choices have done to them.  How they didn't like being told they were wrong to question and they often told him they knew better than him.

I don't know if this man was referring to me. I'm flattering myself to think he has read my blog and was speaking directly to me (although Adam drew that conclusion). It did bother me though that we're encouraged as a people to blindly follow, that questioning is somehow bad. Why is it that in every other aspect of our lives we're encouraged to research, get educated, come to a complete understanding, and generally be well informed? If I'm buying a car, I look at all options, brands, safety, satisfaction, etc. If I'm finding a doctor, I seek out others opinions and experiences. If I'm job hunting, I look at location, salary, perks, quality of life, etc. It has always bothered me that when it comes to our religion or religious topics in general, we're afraid to go beyond what's discussed in the church approved curriculum and if we have thoughts outside of what comes out of HQ then we're Sherem that's preaching there is no Christ. I find it counterproductive to make these claims from the pulpit when there are likely many in the congregation that don't just automatically think everything stated by men is God's will and we should follow. God gave me a brain to think critically and like Joseph Smith, to seek out truth. Our history reflects some bad judgments by men called of God. And it only alienates those in the congregation to speak to them as if we're sinners and evil for having alternative thoughts and won't be able to live with God again if we don't fall in line with everything from the brethren. Men have used scripture and religion for good and evil throughout history. A good friend's parent tried to make her right handed when she was naturally left handed, and quoted scripture in doing so. It may sound harmless, but to a little child it was very frustrating and caused some anxieties that would've otherwise not occurred  Those who were pro-slavery used scripture to justify it. And in this talk, the speaker noted that even the elect will fall. He of course was referring to anyone that doesn't believe strictly what the brethren give us. As a wise friend mentioned to me, pride can come from within the ranks of the organization. It may be that the great test isn't those of us who question and find truths, it may be those that only accept their light and knowledge from someone else that is church approved and look down upon those who are inclined to think differently. Or to think they somehow are lost and God doesn't approve of them and they can't live a happy and fulfilling life and attain salvation. 

I guess for fear of going further and being struck by lightning I will draw this to a close. I don't believe I'm as Sherem for questioning. I believe I've come closer to Christ through love and acceptance of those who don't fit the plan of happiness. If I have to choose between following the prophet and following Christ when it comes to supporting my gay son, I will choose Christ. If your message supports the foundation for the tragic suicides, failed mixed orientation marriages, and general unhappy mental, physical, and spiritual health of those born LGBT then I believe telling us how bad we are for not following the prophet is a tragic irony. It becomes increasingly difficult to attend when the message is how unworthy we are if we aren't in complete agreement. I would think our message needs to be inclusive and inviting, not separating us between followers and non-followers of the prophet. We're there to worship our Savior and Redeemer, not the prophet.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A A A, what begins with A?

Today's post is brought to you by the letter A in the L.A.Z.I blog. I appreciate him understanding my previous posts being mostly about Zach and our rainbow journey. He has told me how important he knows this is to our family and others. But today we'll celebrate Ace.
On this day 17 years ago we brought our first child into this big scary world. And now he's so close to heading out into the big scary world on his own it's scary. Adam has amazed me since he was a wee lad. It's a wonder he has survived the mistakes I've made as his father. He took the brunt of it as I think I was the hardest on the first child trying to make him perfect. I only hope that he can forgive me for these mistakes and not make the same ones I made so he's a better father than I was. I have full and complete confidence in him that he will. 

He's loving, kind, thoughtful, smart, and a typical big brother that loves to tease his brothers. To the point of tears. Often. 

He hardly has to study and can nearly pull off straight A's. Hopefully his study habits improve for college, but I probably wasn't any better until I was paying for my own education. 

He plays a mean trumpet. He loves jazz band. And he gets to go to Hawaii next year with band. Mom and Dad might need to chaperone. 

Adam is always smiling and happy. Unless he's playing a video game. Then don't bug. Unless you want to be hung out to dry. It's serious business and takes much concentration. And he loves to make fun of my video game abilities which amount to punching buttons and pulling triggers as fast as possible. It's not effective but highly entertaining for video game experts that like to make fun of the old geezers that can't play.

Adam has read voraciously since a young boy. He gets lost in books. I love that he finds great joy in them and know this will serve him well his whole life. It was problematic in grade school since teachers would tell us he couldn't put books away to focus on other school work. How do you tell a kid to stop reading books? We have the opposite problem with his youngest brother, but that's another story for I day.

He can sleep like rip van winkle. 

He has a love for being healthy. We've never had him in one sport where he's doing camps and specializing in it. Maybe I should have, but I want kids to have a love for it, not what I wanted. And he has experienced many sports from wake boarding, snow boarding, soccer, baseball, cross country, golf, racquetball, tennis, and wrestling. I wish he would have been willing to start wrestling at a younger age, but he was always so self conscious about appearance that the wrestling singlet was not cool. Until he's a junior in high school. Oh well, he had a great season and now bloodies me when we wrestle. 

I love Adam's personality. He is more of a solitary kind of guy like me. He is quite confident in himself. He doesn't follow the crowd. He has high integrity and expects those around him to live with the same kind of integrity. 

He is funny and loves to laugh. It's contagious and brings great joy to my heart. It's hard to get a normal picture of him smiling and not pulling a face. 

He loves adventure and always wants to do something fun. 

He loves cats and money. He likes to save one and tease the other. I'll let you figure out which is which. 

He's a hard worker and helps me on the farm whenever he's available.  

He loves his brothers and sets a great example for them. He and Zach entering their teenage years struggled to get along or even communicate with each other. I think this had much to do with Zach figuring out he is gay and Adam was quite homophobic and made statements that probably were hurtful to Zach without knowing it. Adam is now a defender of Zach, an ally, an advocate, and sees things entirely different. I love his passion. 

In short, I truly love and admire this boy. It is an honor to have him in our home. He has taught me so much and continues to do so. I know you will be a force in the world for good and wonderful things. Love you Ace!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

A letter, a contrast, and a coincidence

Well, we decided to send a letter to the bishopric about the talk on traditional marriage. I was somewhat apprehensive about this for a couple reasons. I didn't know if I could accurately express our feelings. I had many thoughts and emotions and was having a hard time composing the words in something that would accurately express our dismay but also be helpful in trying to get more compassion from the pulpit. I also didn't want to damage our relationship with the bishop and the counselor who gave the talk.

Much of what I said was already some of what I posted in the last blog entry, but went a little further in detail. I gave it to the bishop after church. He called me later that evening and we had a good conversation. I'm grateful for his phone call. I respect him and know he's trying. I know he's in a difficult position, as was the member of the bishopric that delivered the message. I wouldn't want to be in that position, but if I were I wouldn't deliver it in the manner that was chosen. No matter what is directed from the human beings holding higher callings than us, we still have the ability and duty as independent thinking members to determine if what is being asked of us is good and correct. I am trying to be understanding of leaders that are asked to address these kind of issues. I think my letter didn't address those who are responsible for the heavy dose of traditional marriage being driven like a huge sledgehammer to the membership, but hopefully helped our local leaders realize the damage some well intended messages have on LGBT youth and families. I know it's not your intention, but that's how it's received. And that's not entirely the problem of the messenger, it's the message. The policy of exclusion.

Having a child that is excluded from something has changed my perspective on many things. Since next week is general conference, we had fast and testimony meeting. The first individual following the bishop to share his testimony was an elderly gentleman that had lost his wife of 67 years one year ago. He talked about how lonely he feels, how painful it is to be alone, and how he looks forward to when he can be with her in the eternities thanks to temple marriage. The next man stood and shared similar sentiments about being alone after his wife's passing and temple marriage. Of course I'm sad they are alone and miss their spouses. Of course I think it's wonderful they had so many years with the one they love. Of course I feel happy for them to be able to have a temple marriage. I looked at my gay son and thought what a bizarre contrast to be sitting here in church where these men stand and testify about how painful it is to be alone and how grateful they are for temple marriage. Yet our church expects my gay son to live a painful life alone so he can attend the temple to be reminded he can't have a temple marriage to someone he loves. Wow. I really, really wanted to get up to draw this contrast for the congregation but couldn't bring myself to do it. I felt I might be diminishing this sweet man's pain. But I also felt it was the perfect contrast to what is a big problem.

So to top it off, yesterday Christy calls me and tells me Isaac has the prayer and scripture for the Sunday following conference. She asks me to guess what scripture. I racked my brain trying to think of what scripture in the Bible, Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, or Doctrine and Covenants would say something about being gay. No, nothing from the canonized scriptures. It's a quote from the proclamation, 'marriage between a man and woman is ordained of God.' So, now we're moving from sacrament meeting where we hear this from the pulpit to asking my youngest son to state from the primary pulpit how his brother  is an abomination to God. Good grief. Was this some kind of sick joke? Christy called the primary secretary and she was unaware of Zach apparently and Christy asked her to reassign the 'scripture' and prayer. So now the proclamation is scripture? When did I miss this document becoming canonized?

That's all for today folks. The sun is shining and grass has to be grown.