The framework that I had built my life around is now gone. Cracks to the foundation caused the structure to fall away completely.

I’m left sifting through the pile of discarded beliefs, trying desperately to hold on to just this one:

There’s life after this one.

I want to believe this. I have to believe this. But learning that everything else I thought was true is not has shaken the very foundation of all that I believe. It’s not just about Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon. It’s about God and Jesus Christ and all that I had once used to cushion myself against the harsh realities of this life.

The framework for my own happiness. The belief that I was not robbed in this life because I’d have my father or the baby that I had lost in the life after this. If there’s not that, then there is a sadness I am not yet equipped to deal with.

My father. Seventeen years later and only remnants of him remain buried someplace almost too far for me to get to anymore. The empty spaces that his memories once occupied are now painful, gaping wounds. I cannot help but worry that if there is a life after this one, that he’s not standing on the other side pissed as hell at the choices I have made. The pile of beliefs I find myself sifting through.


It happened as I was laying on the floor in a steamed up bathroom watching my daughter sleep. The shower was running, so was the faucet. We were trying to loosen up the gunk in her lungs, we were trying to keep her out of the hospital.

When she’d start to cough, I’d hold her tiny body over my legs and bang on her back and chest the way the doctors had shown me. My body was so drenched that you couldn’t tell the difference from the sweat and the tears on my face.

The week prior had just been too much. I felt like my soul had been squeezed to the point that everything that I had once believed in had been rung out on the floor.  My faith, my trust, my humility. If all good things came from God, he was not present in my life.

There were no good things.

We were in Utah, still at the beginning of our trek across the country to move to Washington D.C.  I did not want to move, but there was no other choice. We were in too much debt. Between the medical expenses, the extra cost of care for Preston and Regan, we were just about sunk. We bought our house before the market crashed, so we couldn’t even get out of that. We had to move. The job in DC would be much better. It would pay for our home, our food, etc. It was what we needed, we just needed to get there.  Our car had broken down three times in the last week. Long story short, $4,000 we did not have later, the car was still broken, at the fault of the Toyota dealerships.

Every prayer I said was “answered” in the opposite. “Please help Abby to get better” -she got worse. “Please help us to resolve this issue with our car and the dealership”- they washed their hands of it. “Please help me to get some sleep” -there was none.

Finally in exasperation I threw my hands up at the sky and screamed, “Where are you now?! Where ARE YOU?!”

No answer.

I was angry. I was mad at God. If nothing else, being angry with him shows that I still believed. If nothing else.

That night on the floor of that sweaty room, my relationship with God changed in a way that would leave me believing less in him, and more in myself.

And the more I see how much I am in control of my life- that everything is MY choice- the better things get for me.

I don’t know what I believe about God anymore. I don’t know if it’s a person, and I definitely don’t believe it’s just one MAN because there is too much in this world that screams of being created by a woman. Maybe there is. Maybe there’s something else that I don’t quite understand. Maybe there’s nothing and all we have is our choices.

Either way, knowing that I choose my path changes everything.





I have a personal blog. It’s well read (by my very low standards) and many of my readers are LDS. They are now leaving in droves. Which is fine. It started with my occasional swear words. I never really used anything worse than “shit” but my family thought it was enough to have an intervention.  They told me I wasn’t being a good example of the church or the family by using the language I do.

I’ve never once said the ‘f’ word on my blog. “Shit” has been used maybe three times total. People comment on there who have foul mouths, but I’m not their moms. They can say what they want. Anyways, that was the start of the “saints” leaving my blog.

After MONTHS AND MONTHS of feeling “prompted” (a spiritual term we use in the church meaning that the Holy Ghost is telling us to do something) to write about how I feel about gay marriage, I wrote a post. I ran it by my gay  mormon friend, and got his okay. My husband read it and went over the word usage, the political points I was trying to make and went on to make sure that it was not offensive. My husband feels differently than I do on this topic. Sort of. Then I did something I usually do before doing something that scares the hell out of me: I prayed. I prayed to the God I love to know if what I was doing was right.

It was right.

I posted it. Immediately following the post, an other friend of mine who is gay sent me an email, part of it said:

” I’m so humbled by someone who does what is right regardless of if they have something to gain. I am simply so grateful and CHALLENGED that you are so aware and compassionate to your surroundings. Honestly, I’m just blown away and have no words that are dignified enough for what you are doing. I appreciate you and love you for fighting for what is good, right and honest — without any personal gain. You are amazing- and you make me aspire to a higher level of Christianity. Thank you. Love you.”

What followed was mixed. A lot of support. A lot of honest disagreement but thoughtful conversation about the subject. Then the mean comments came. The hate mail. Some said:

“Seven people talked about how brave you are. Brave for saying that you’re for gay marriage? Bravery is not sucking up to the masses for attention and praise. Grow up, get off your computer and raise your kids. You’re about as Mormon as Roseanne Barr. Poor *Peter.”

“This debate is a waste of time for LDS folks. You either sustain the First Presidency 100%, or you don’t. If you do, and if your opinions and beliefs aren’t in perfect alignment with theirs, then you need to do whatever it takes to sustain President Monson. We’ve always been told that in the last days, it will be VERY difficult and unpopular to stand strong as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints. Wake up! This is but one of the many issues that will separate those who are truly consecrated members of the church. Sure, I personally don’t care if gays marry. But, according the the doctrine and First Presidency, the Lord does. Accordingly, I sustain the Prophet of God. If you don’t sustain him, you stand in grave danger of falling away. Follow the Prophet or follow the world; you can’t do both.”

The worst of it came from my own family. My sister told me that it was time for me to take off my garments and leave the church. That I was wicked. I haven’t had the same relationship with my family since, and it’s been over 6 months since I published that post.

This was when I fully opened my eyes. Feeling like I could not change how I felt about this issue meant one of two things. Either I was wrong, or the prophet was. And, as apparent from the comments I recieved on that post, it can’t be both.

It was the beginning of what is looking to be the end for me. Before I posted that, I was completely temple worthy. I felt like I had a difference with the church- but did not fully doubt the doctrine…yet. With that one thing being wrong, it opened the floodgates for everything else.  But all of that came later.

After the post was published and the fires of hell didn’t get me, my in laws came out to visit. My in laws have been super wonderful about this thing. They’re a lot like Lance- they disagree, but they try to understand and love me all of the same. We went and saw “Wicked” in New York City. Have you seen Wicked?  It’s the “back story” behind the Wicked Witch of the West, Epheba, and Glenda, the Good Witch, from The Wizard of Oz.  Elpheba finds that the animals that were once able to talk, to teach at the university, etc, are being silenced. (spoiler alert if you haven’t seen it) and that it’s the Wizard who is doing it. She has a choice to stay in line with what the Wizard wants, and he has some clear, but misguieded reasons for it, or follow her own convictions. She chooses the latter and The Wizard of Oz makes her out to be, well, wicked.

When we were watching the play, I strongly identified with Elpheba. I knew how it felt to be different. To feel differently than those we are supposed to revere. The song “Defying Gravity” from the play has become more than just a song for me, it’s become an anthem. The words are:

Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I’m through with playing by the rules
Of someone else’s game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes: and leap!

It’s time to try
Defying gravity
I think I’ll try
Defying gravity
And you can’t pull me down!

I’m through accepting limits
”cause someone says they’re so
Some things I cannot change
But till I try, I’ll never know!
Too long I’ve been afraid of
Losing love I guess I’ve lost
Well, if that’s love
It comes at much too high a cost!
I’d sooner buy
Defying gravity
Kiss me goodbye
I’m defying gravity

So if you care to find me
Look to the western sky!
As someone told me lately:
“Ev’ryone deserves the chance to fly!”
And if I’m flying solo
At least I’m flying free
To those who’d ground me
Take a message back from me

Tell them how I am
Defying gravity
I’m flying high
Defying gravity
And soon I’ll match them in renown
And nobody in all of Oz
No Wizard that there is or was
Is ever gonna bring me down!

This song is right before the intermission, and mercifully so. I couldn’t take anymore. I held my arms around me in an attempt to keep all of the emotion in. It was too much.

I wasn’t wicked. I wasn’t wicked! Defying the prophet did not mean I was wicked! Everything changed. I’m cannot be a part of a church that discriminates. I am not wrong for feeling this way. I am not wicked.

The sadness prevails.

I spoke with my husband for a long time again tonight about my feelings. After a long back and forth and many tears. My husband has been great about all of this. He’s left me no room to be angry. To fight. He’s only given me the space to explore. Tonight I told him how sad I was about all of this. I had always thought people left the church because they were angry at it.  That is not true.

Leaving is hard. Leaving is SO sad. Coming to realizations, over and over again, that the structure I’v framed my whole life around is not what I thought it was is hard. I cried tonight as I spoke to my husband of the things in my last post.  A month or two ago, a little boy with Down syndrome who was waiting in an orphanage died before his would be adoptive-parents could raise enough money to bring him home. They had given him a name and a place in their hearts. If they could have gotten to him sooner, he most likely would have survived.  I see this in stark contrast to the fancy new mall built for 2 billion dollars across the street from the temple. 2 billion dollars. How many lives would that have saved?

Is this Christ’s church if it forsakes children? What justification can be used to say that a mall is more important than the lives of the His most vulnerable?

And it hurts. It hurts that the gospel I love isn’t standing the test of scrutiny. I always thought that with the church, if it was true, it would hold up. That there would be enough out there to counteract the bitter pills I’ve been swallowing.

I don’t think there is.

Tonight my husband held me as I cried until my body shook. My head hurt and my eyes blurred. I saw just his outline as he said to me only, “It seems in your conversation about the church, you’re now talking in past tense…”



The Bible commands that the people give a tithe of their increase. In the good ol’ days, this meant part of your fields, your flocks, your substance. In the Mormon church, it’s commanded that we give 10% of our increase to the church. We are told that everything we are given is from God, this was our way to give back to him- by giving it to the church. If we fail to do so, we are “unworthy” to receive the blessings of the temple.  I’ve paid tithing pretty faithfully since I was 12. It was tough, but I was taught over and over and over again three important things:

1. That we will be blessed temporally (financially) and spiritually for doing so, and

2.  The money was spent by the church to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and shelter the homeless.

At the end of the year, you sit down with your Bishop (or “pastor”) and talk about what you’ve given in tithes. You are then asked if you are a “full tithe  payer.” You say “yes” and then everyone pats each others backs and you all feel super good about yourself. For three consecutive years an interesting thing happened. We’d get our slip for the amount that we had paid, and it was almost exactly what we were in debt on our credit cards. Times were tough. We were paying for therapies upon therapies.  Those THOUSANDS of dollars really could have helped us.

But it’s the #2 that really gets me. I only discovered that things aren’t what they seem with the Church when my stomach clenched all up at seeing the Prophet, my prophet, grand opening of a 2 BILLION dollar MALL in Salt Lake City that included such high end stores as Tiffany’s.  I’ve seen starving children. I’ve watched as children with special needs DIE in orphanages and mental institutions all over the world, not because there aren’t people that want them, but that there isn’t money to pay for the adoptions.  But there IS money to pay for a Macy’s and a Tiffany’s right across the street from the temple of God.

It reminds me of the money changers in the New Testament. They might as well had this on a banner above the ceremony, (from the Book of Mormon):

“Behold, O my God, their costly apparel, and their ringlets, and their bracelets, and their ornaments of gold, and all their precious things which they are ornamented with; and behold, their hearts are set upon them, and yet they cry unto thee and say—We thank thee, O God, for we are a chosen people unto thee, while others shall perish. ”           Alma, 31:28

The prophet could have read this quote right before he yelled, “Lets go shopping!”

In my search for ANY reason that this mall made sense to me, I came across this article:  How Mormon’s Make Money on Newsweek. Part of it says,

According to an official church Welfare Services fact sheet, the church gave $1.3 billion in humanitarian aid in more than 178 countries and territories during the 25 years between 1985 and 2010. A fact sheet from the previous year indicates that less than one-third of the sum was monetary assistance, while the rest was in the form of “material assistance.” All in all, if one were to evenly distribute that $1.3 billion over a quarter-century, it would mean that the church gave $52 million annually. A study co-written by Cragun and recently published in Free Inquiry estimates that the Mormon Church donates only about 0.7 percent of its annual income to charity; the United Methodist Church gives about 29 percent.

The church, that requires it’s members to pay 10% of it’s earnings to charity (i.e. the church) does not itself give 10% to charities. A CHURCH. I was not baptized into a corporation, at least that’s not what I thought I was doing.

The church gave 1.3 Billion dollars over 25 years. It spent 2 billion on a MALL.

Unless I can get some good answers to this, I’m DONE paying tithing TO THE CHURCH. I’m happy giving my money to charity because I believe that makes me a good person and there’s a LOT of good that can be done with it. That the church IS NOT doing with it.


“What would your father think?”

Phoenix in June. Hot. Unbearably hot. The room I was standing in had long windows on both sides. They filled the room with light, but they also made it heat up. The amount of people in the room made it muggy.

Something about the heat, about the constant onslaught of people, and the wretched sadness that filled me made me tired. And it made me mad. I shouldn’t be here. I should not have to stand in a line with my siblings and my mother comforting all of these dammed adults. I just turned 13!  I don’t like hugs. I don’t like pity.  And I don’t like feeling like I’m some sort of presenter standing here next to what everyone has come to see.

His casket. When I had first seen it the night before, it looked black. But in the light of the big windows, I could see that it was actually a very dark green. The inside was white and looked fluffy and comfortable- like a cozy bed surrounded with a down filled comforter. And there, lying too still and too cold for this hot day, was the body of the only advocate I felt like I ever had. The only person that was consistently on my side. The person I love the very most in this world. My father.

He had passed away after a long battle with cancer that had ended days before. And before that, we had knelt next to his bed and prayed that God would finally take him. Yes, at 13, I had prayed for my father to die. The weeks before he passed were chaotic and beautiful and sad.  I watched as the cancer took every last part of him. I watched as the man who could always stand to lose a few pounds withered away into a frail, much older man over the course of 8 short weeks. His skin changed color. His eyes sunk in. By the last week, he could barely do more than breathe enough to keep himself alive. He could only whisper. He whispered as he slid in and out of consciousness. He whispered as though the veil between this world and the next had been lifted. He was talking TO someone.

I’d try to listen. I’d try to make out the conversations that he was having. I’d get right next to his face, but I did not understand what he was saying. The night before he passed I crept next to his bed, and told him I loved him. He stirred from his sleep, motioned me to get close to his face and whispered in my ear the last thing he ever said to me. “I love.”

Standing in that hot, terrible line was almost more than I could take. But I stood tall. He would have wanted that, right? For me to stand tall? I said the words of comfort I had heard my mother saying the weeks before as people came in and out of our house, offering condolences while my father was still alive.  Too many well meaning people hugged me and told me that it was his time. That he had a better work to do on the “other side.” I nodded in agreement.

But inside the anger stirred. Better? We’re taught in the church that nothing is more important than family. Tell me then, what is more important on the other side? More important than his wife and SIX children he had left behind?  More important than his youngest daughter? More important than me, the girl who felt so alone in this world without him. The girl who needed him because he understood the workings of her heart. The girl who wasn’t outgoing like her siblings. The girl who loved to write things the rest of her family STILL doesn’t read, but that he delighted in.

The hardest part now for me to understand is that my dad said those things to. That it was his time. That he was needed on the other side. I know he believed it, and I know he meant to say those words in comfort.  But would he have always? Would things have changed for him, too? I don’t know.

The same words of faith he spoke are now the ones that are used against me. He believed, so how can I not? What would my father- my DEAD FATHER- think of my unbelief?

I don’t know.

The “Offended Out of the Church” Myth

The lesson in Relief Society and Priesthood today was on Forgiveness. This lesson always goes to a place that makes me cringe. A hand is raised…

“Most often, people leave the church because of something someone said or did that offended them…”

That is verbatim from my lesson today. Another hand raised…

“I pity them. How SAD it is that their testimony isn’t strong enough for them overcome what someone said. They are missing out on an eternity of blessings because they just could not forgive.”

Double cringe.

A survey was done of over 3,000  “Mormons who, having once held firm belief in the Church, subsequently lose that belief in part or whole.” Of this study only 4% said that being offended was their strongest reason for leaving the church. The majority of people who leave, this survey found, was for doctrinal issues. The entire survey can be found here:

Did you get that? FOUR PER CENT. Four.

People want to believe that people who leave only do it because their testimonies aren’t strong enough to handle the occasional jerk who says or does something offensive. Why? Because it scares people to know that there are issues with the doctrine that could be big enough to claim even the best of saints. It’s easier to believe that people who leave are bitter, hateful and angry.

Losing faith, losing testimony, falling away, whatever you want to call it is found across religions. I’m not sure though, if the stigma is as harsh other places as it is within the church. You hear it  A LOT: “Molly’s son FELL AWAY. It’s so sad!”  Members don’t understand how terrible this sounds. It makes the person who left sound like they are less. It makes them feel like they are less. That there’s something wrong with them because they couldn’t just stay true to the church. This is not true!

For me personally, the people of the church are the reason I still go. The members, for the most part (including the people who said the things above, they just don’t know better…)are wonderful people. They are caring. They are charitable. I love the members of the church.  I have had horrific things said to me on my other blog by members of the church. These things STUNG even more than you could imagine. But people are people.

I believe in forgiveness, too.