Friday, May 27, 2016

Because I Couldn't Say Thank You

My earliest memories include hazy visions of your kitchen, the old fashioned metal stove, the cracked, concrete floors, the tortilla and cheese strewed across your table.  Your home was a haven to me, a place of love and warmth that transcended almost any other structure on earth.  I remember feeling of your goodness from my infancy and yours was the example that taught me the meaning of dignity.  You were never rich, you never earned shiny awards at some ivy league college.  I'm not even entirely sure how much you could read.  But I saw that you were a lady of the first order nevertheless.  I remember your generosity, and I saw with my own eyes that you would offer me and anyone who entered your home all the food you had, even if you had literally nothing left for yourself.  Your wealth of spirit more than made up for your financial poverty and of all the old women I knew, you were the one I most wanted to emulate.

But I could never tell you these things.  I felt shy as a child, surrounded by so many rough adults, speaking so fluently in a language I couldn't even begin to command.  I wished so many times I could tell you how much I admired you, but I had never learned the words sufficiently to express my deep appreciation.  I tried.  When I reached the university I majored in Spanish for no other reason but to be able to speak to my Hispanic family.  Still I stumbled and couldn't seem to string the ideas together coherently.

I remember the last time we spoke.  You invited me to sit next to you.  We were alone in that sweet, beloved kitchen, and you saw that I was no longer the two year old rolling in dirt and chasing the hens about your front yard.  You gave me the best advice you had to offer after a long life of attaining, if not worldly applause, then heavenly wisdom.  I remember how you felt ashamed of your lack of formal education.  Eagerly, I tried to tell you that your intelligence proved higher than that of the many college professors I had known, but alas!  My curséd tongue tripped over the Spanish again, and this time for the last time of your mortal probation.  I couldn't convey how divine and beautiful you were to me.  How much I wanted to show you how special you were, and when you finally passed from this life, terrible circumstances hindered me from even paying respects at your funeral.  I have not yet had the blessing of traveling to Mexico to even visit your grave.

But I have a gift that seems as graceful as my Spanish is clumsy, and I offer it to you with all of my heart.  It doesn't seem sufficient at first glance, but I pray your patience just a moment longer to allow me to explain.  I am well versed in religion and in certain types of mental labor, and through this I gathered the details of your life and took them into a place of light and peace today that I might honor you in the best way I know how.  You had no opportunity to be baptized and come into the fold of Jesus Christ in this lifetime, but in the temple my nieces were honored and blessed to take part in doing so on your behalf.  There is more, much more, and I will not stop until I have seen all of it complete. 

We will go on to do more things to honor you, to express how precious you in God's eyes, and how your spirit will go on and on in glory and joy.  You adored your husband and bore fourteen children, and I will see to it that through the temple you will be able to be with them, not just til death do us part but literally forever.  During your lifetime, you lost children in devastating and unexpected accidents and illnesses, but I will labor for as long as it takes to ensure you will be with them in an everlasting bond of familial love.  I couldn't say thank you sufficiently in your own language but let me show my gratitude in doing all within my power to raise you up and seal you to your loved ones eternally.  You gave me a role model in many ways and truly, it is the least I can do.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Anonymous Guest Author

Once again I post those words that spilled from my pencil from a genius other than my own. I have no idea how or why this happens of late but perhaps someday God will make this clear.  These are the words clearly of a man and is remarkably different from my own style. It bewilders me even to the point of confused (almost) discomfort. I suppose this is merely something God would have me learn in this manner at this time. One reader has suggested I write a poem in reply. Possible. Stay tuned. 

My love, I speak how God allows
Though wishing I could hold you tight
My gratitude, though, knows no bounds
And all my soul feels filled with light

For having this sweet window close
Into your ear I whisper love
And plead you know I love you most
My angel, yea, my purest dove. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Eternal Poetry

Once again, I began to write and this, from a man's perspective, seemed to flow from the pencil's own will.  Though I suppose that makes me the author, I have had a difficult time comprehending it in its entirety.  The style and rhythm are not my own - they arise from a different place entirely.  This seems to denote both love and a battle with this cold and hardened mortality, with a plea that his beloved turn away from what she sees of life and it's cynicism and trust that this relationship transcends all of those common and degrading things.  I find the structure particularly interesting, not only because it is so remarkably different from my own style but because it creates a strong, straightforward sense of urgency, almost as a warrior entering battle with reckless valor. 

We find our souls entwined
In sweet embrace
That mortals never find
By earthly grace
But by God's help and will.
You love me here
I'll love you ever still -
Forget your fear

Men's armies cannot break this grasp
When you in loving arms I clasp. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Why Did You Plant Me Here?

Sweltering heat woke her from oblivion, the arid atmosphere already biting into her tender heart.  Her young hopes felt dashed already, her desire to expand and progress in the lush support of a pampered garden shattered cruelly and immediately.  She tried to move but alas!  She found herself thoroughly rooted, not in the soft embrace of sweet and gentle leaves, but shackled in thorny chains of continual injury. 
Father of heaven, why did you plant me in this scorched, nigh forsaken waste?  What have I done to displease Thee or lose Thy favor?  I know that other regions exist where rain falls abundantly and the air teems with blessed coolness and humidity.  I know these areas house countless flowers that stretch and yawn in easy luxury.  Dost Thou love them more than me?  I know deep inside that they are not more beautiful than I am.  At least, why didst Thou not give me a chance?  Is it because in truth Thou seest me as weak and ugly, and Thou knowest in Thy might wisdom that I would fail?  Dost Thou see me as second rate and worthless beside those well kept oft tended blossoms?
Thus the little bud questioned, prayed, wondered and wept, and as she did, the heat increased with vehemence.  No helping rain splashed down from the heavens to her rescue, no respite saved her from the ever increasing fire of the Arizona sun, and yet, trapped in her prison, the flower began to look about her. 
Everything is so horrible here.  I know in my heart what beauty is and what should exist.  I know and comprehend loveliness that these poor, wretched companions can scarcely comprehend.  I wish they could see the beds of flowers that I know exist. 
Little by little, the blossom matured, and, in the ordinary course of her nature, spread her petals outward and gazed at the cloudless, azure sky.  Many came from far to gaze upon her face and whisper in hushed wonderment at her form.  And then, the little flower began to understand what she had not dared hope to believe.
Little one, I knew who you were when I planted you.  I knew how strong and beautiful you were.  I knew you needed the heat and horrors to become what you presently are.  It wasn't because you were less or second rate that I planted you among thorns.  It was because in this barren wasteland, I needed my strongest, my sweetest, my most resilient creations of glory to cheer the gloom and uplift the downcast.  I planted you here because you are strong enough to give life to this dreary, agonizing desert. 
The flowers in the carefully tended gardens would have wasted away under this rigor, but I knew you were one of the few who could survive and make this hellish atmosphere a place of unmatchable and unutterable joy.  You are my ensign, my beacon to the world, my symbol that nothing is impossible, and because of your strength and beauty, many people who have forgotten what miracles are shall remember where to look in their distress.  I know it has been hard, but it was necessary to raise you up as the example of power and resilience that you are to millions throughout the world. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Big. Phony. Laugh.

*I have tossed and turned much in considering this endeavor and for my own part I would just as well forget the issue and go pursue better things.  But I feel much impressed that for a great many reasons, someone needs to openly voice the truth about persecution and encourage those facing threats and jeers such as I have experienced.  I speak from compassion for both the persecutor and their innocent victims.
Paperwork piled on my desk drew my eyes and attention and I found myself immersed in the mortal, pressing labor of the day.  Tax calculations, invoices and the like littered my workspace and I plowed through with studious intent until I found myself interrupted by a voice at my door.
"Hey Michelle, have you heard the latest on how screwed up your church is?"
Here we go again. 
I must confess this associate has after many years for the most part given up on attacking me directly, as he has found I prove generally impenetrable, but I find myself often the quick tongued vigilante who steps between him and others he seeks to demoralize. 
I hear him travel down the hall to seek out other God fearing individuals and likewise interrupt their work in order to belittle their beliefs.  I hear him stop at another Christian's door and begin unleashing a tirade of how absurd it is to believe in God. 
Oh no you don't.
Rising from my desk, I stride toward his dulcet tones and ready myself to face this fight.  The tax forms will just have to wait.  I find him taunting this noble hearted Christian, who is clearly feeling the heat and exhaustion of verbal and psychological battle and I jump right in with a retort.
Gratefully, I have questioned just about everything about Mormonism and God in general, and voluntarily ripped my testimony to pieces that I might rebuild it more firmly from the ground up.  He lashes back at me and I side step him, swipe at the foundation of his argument and watch his position crumble to the dust.  He starts from another angle and I quickly jerk the carpet from under him and watch him hit the bare concrete below.  I have to get back to my work, so I go on the offensive to finish him off.  I pin him in and quite simply show him the absurdity of his lack of belief in such terms as cannot be refuted.  He literally has no intelligent place to go.
And then it happens.  He throws his head back and lets out a loud, brash, derisive laugh.  The sound echoes off the stone floor and reverberates across the office.  He saunters away with an ear to ear grin as though my words were so idiotic that he has nothing left to say.
This, my friend, is not a man who thinks me an idiot.  I have known him for years, since before he turned his back on the truth.  I know his mannerisms and his thought processes.  This is not the behavior of a person who truly believes I am hopeless.  But the fact is that laughter is no argument.  Personal attacks are also not valid, issue related arguments.  The fact is that this is the hollow, empty, maniacal laughter of a man trapped in his own weak and brittle agenda, knows that my logic has hemmed him in and has run out of ideas.
Gentle reader, when you find the world laughing at you, please remember that it isn't you at whom they laugh.  They laugh out of fear that they may be wrong.  They laugh out of desperation in the need to cling to their easily broken ideas.  They fear so terribly that the house of cards they have made their platform will fall apart that they have to close the discussion and make a quick getaway.  Know, my dear friend and fellow follower of God, that deep down they fear that all they preach is wrong, for so it is and somewhere in that beautiful, eternal soul of theirs they know their falsehood perfectly.  They fear having to change.  They may fear that God will never accept them after all they have done to fight against Him.  They may fear that this hatred of God which made them feel strong will shatter and they will be left to see how weak they really are.  They have not learned yet to trust that with God they can be made stronger than ever they were erstwhile.  Pity them and pray for their welfare, for they live in a one dimensional existence, purposefully blinding themselves to all that would make them truly rich and everlastingly happy.

Thursday, May 12, 2016


My daughter and I were writing poetry together in her room, listening to meditative music and eating snacks.  She requested I write a poem about her, and I was glad to oblige.  It is in terza rima, which I reserve only for very special subjects.
A magic rain begins to fall upon
The hungered earth.  Those drops of heaven's grace
Sweet renders all the parched and aching sod
Anew with life!  And when I see her face
I feel at once the bright and glorious soul
That taught my injured heart and gave it place
In heightened faith.  I glory to extole
The blessing that she daily, ever proves,
Her happiness, my always present goal.
And as my Father lent her unto me,
I plead Thy help to bring her back to Thee!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Church of the Lost Keys

*Dedicated to one particular naysayer.   You know who you are.

Sounds like something out of Indiana Jones, doesn't it? 
I find myself informed that many who dislike Sunday School in general, and as I comprehend it, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints specifically, have bestowed this title upon organized religion and Mormonism.  Their mode of thinking goes something like this:  We often hear stories from church members who relate that in the midst of a busy and stressful day, they lost their car keys, and, after some prayer, God directed them to find said engine starter between the couch cushions of their Lazy Boy.  This, they conclude, stands as proof to them that God knows and loves them, and is involved in every aspect of their lives.  Those who oppose the Church point out that there are many in the chains of bondage, dying of starvation and torture, and this God we believe is so close to us has most certainly forgotten and cast aside these people and left them to their much larger troubles. 

I see their concern and from a brief and disgruntled view it seems a very good point. My heart goes out continually toward those in third world countries as do regular contributions from my pocketbook.  But let me aid my gentle reader in broadening their horizons a little. 
My life, though in a first world country, has generally excited the eyebrow raising, gossip ridden whispers and groans of supreme and bewildered pity from those who have watched the events transpire.  I have become accustomed to fight desperately for my health and life, facing abuse, betrayal, amnesia and many other trials on a daily basis.  This bizarre and often blighted sense of existence has become my daily stroll, and the repercussions prove far more intense than the consequences of a momentarily lost set of keys.  Years have passed without one day that I do not plead to heaven to release me from bondage and anguish, but to no avail. 
I do not mean to pretend I know all the pains that other people suffer, but I will say this for certain - God knows all things and He is aware of our trials.  He is aware of the sex slave being trafficked just as much as He is aware of the exhausted mom searching desperately for a pacifier to calm her screaming child.  He gives us trials, not because He dislikes us, but because He knows that we need to be tested and tried in different ways to become what He knows we can become.  My heart bleeds for those held in bondage, but it also goes out to those who are the abuser and the offender, for in the long run, their agony shall prove so much worse than those they injure.  This world exists for but a moment and all things shall be made right, either in this existence or the next.  I trust to God that those in dire circumstances shall enjoy a better resurrection but I fear for those in first world countries who face different and more condemning trials.  We in first world countries often fall victim to selling those things that prove most important for things of naught.  We sacrifice family for the love of money and prestige.  We willingly place ourselves in bondage to addictions and hold more to pride than to the saving safety of humility.  We teach our children to scoff at religion and traditional values, damaging them sometimes irreparably in an effort to remain politically correct.  Our dear brethren and sisters in mortal bondage have it rough for now.  True.  But those with education and leisure to read this post often sell ourselves into eternal bondage voluntarily. 
To those who refer to my religion as the Church of the Lost Keys, I would ask you if you seek to lift the burdens of others?  We do.  We reach out to the homeless, the forsaken, the starving and the rejected.  Do you spend your time in humanitarian service to make a difference in this world, or do you spend it in watching the internet eagerly, looking for a way to speak badly of others?  If your behavior proves more the latter, I grieve for you, for you are in at least as terrible bondage as physical slaves, and worse because for you there is no rest neither night nor day in the confines of your own mind.  Their bondage will come to an end - that much is certain.  The end of your bondage, my dear gentle reader, proves far less a sure event.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Bumper Stickers on a Lamborghini

Dedicated to all the wonderful teenagers and young adults out there!

Sounds awful, doesn't it?  What right thinking human would dare desecrate the fantastic vehicle with such unholy filth?  I personally have never seen too many bumper stickers on luxury or super hot sports cars, and I doubt you have either.  But I have seen many times another phenomenon that proves altogether worse and which we tend to view daily without batting an eye.  

Firstly, please understand that I judge no one.  I love all people and I respect the human right to agency, but because my concern and love runs so deep I feel moved to relate to my dear younger friends a trap into which I fear they may fall.

I understand that people make mistakes and would judge no one I see meandering about this earth with a tattoo.  But truly, isn't that the exact same thing as plastering absurd sticky messages on the backside of a Ferrari?  Indeed, the human body proves more beautiful, worthy of reverence and perfectly constructed than any hot rod.  

I see frequently dear, wonderful people who I feel seem lost about their own self worth, made evident by their many body piercings.  My dear, beloved friends, you are worth more than that!  I love you and wish you well, and would therefore enlighten your eyes to a fact to which we may sometimes find ourselves quite blind.  As cool as they may seem momentarily, body piercings look, well, trashy.  This is me stepping out of the realm of political correctness in a spirit of love and offering my dear gentle reader a better kind of correctness.  I offer you the correctness of honoring your body and your spirit in spite of all the howling winds of dissent and trumpeting moral bigots on earth.  I pray you value all that you are enough to offer the same peace and love to yourself.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Lady from Turicachi

Happy Mother's Day to Martha Duarte Smith!

From Turicachi's sequia clear
A lady's birth once changed the world
When one leapt from bright heaven's 'brace
And into dark earth's vacuum, swirled
Among the rough, the brash, and wrong
She set example in the ranks
Of wayward souls who hinderéd
Bright righteousness, who loved the dank
And loathsome wrong.  From BYU
To West Berlin, her influence
Brought daylight sweet to hearts of night,
In this, demolishing constituents
Of Satan's plan.  Her faith so dear,
Fast opened up Sonora Ward,
Led souls to Christ and strengthened them,
Destroying vice with flaming sword.
A volume great might well be writ
Regarding deeds from little hands
And angel's heart proves honoréd
To point and say, "Behold, she stands!"

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Song of Soulmates

In much meditation and pondering, reaching outward with my spirit, I questioned how a man would feel attempting to win over, not just any woman, but his soul mate.  I wondered how he would feel without her in his life and how he would feel when he finally married her.  And it seemed that as I considered this question, my pencil began scribbling by itself and I was left to read, astonished, what words it formed upon the page.

My adoration reaches far
Into the centre of thy heart,
O'erwhelming all my pride, despair
In lack of thee, my counterpart.

From nigh the first within my eyes
My spirit found eternal home
And caught me swift, so paralyzed
That I am thine, where'er I roam.

I cannot speak my heart to thee -
My tongue yet stumbles in attempt
But surely thou canst ready see
My soul is thine, and none exempt

From thy command, my goddess fair.
I worship and adore thy form,
I tumble and try not to stare
Or 'vision thy embrace so warm,

But soul alas!  I find me caught
In sweetest web of darling love.
I grasp in hand she who I sought
And thank my noble Lord above.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Decision to Divorce

Each of us know someone who has divorced and perhaps those reading these extensions of thought have contemplated filing the ultimate paperwork ourselves.  Most of us realize that the decision to continue on this path leads to difficulty, much change, and often exquisite pain.  And though this proves the case, we still see marriages falling apart in rapidly increasing numbers, creating a social and moral epidemic such as this world has never known before.  The frequency of reckless, needless divorce drives me to my knees in sorrow for this world and for many of the decisions that lead to destroying the family unit.  I speak today, my friends, to those who currently contemplate severing this powerful connection.  I realize that sometimes divorce proves inevitable, but perhaps we can decide whether our marriage is truly worth saving or not.  Come and let us reason together.
My friend, I implore you to ask yourself some vital questions in making this decision.  My heart breaks for you and the difficulties you face.  Please consider some ideas and ponder deeply what you can do to make a better life for yourself. 
We often file because we are angry, or because horrible things have happened.  I understand.  We may feel justified, and perhaps we most certainly are.  But think on this, my dear friend.  Have you placed your spouse's needs before your own on a consistent basis?  Have you deeply considered how they feel and sought to walk in their shoes in order to better comprehend their perspective?  Have you considered that marriage is a sacred union that it is not to be lightly destroyed?  Have you listened intently to your children and internalized the repercussions that they will suffer? 
So much for the easy ones.  Let us continue.  What of those who feel that they have accidentally married the wrong person?  That is a frightening thought.  Ask yourself if you might not work and learn together to become more perfectly united and pray that God, who can do anything, find a way to make you true soul mates in every possible way? Have you worn out your knees in begging the Lord to help you fall more deeply in love with this person and then looked for ways to strengthen your own affection for them?
My dear friends, let us assume you are contemplating divorce because of adultery.  My heart weeps as I ask you, have you forgiven your spouse completely?  Have you extended mercy and understanding, caring more for the welfare of their soul than for your anger, injury, and pride?  Whether they have apologized or not, have you prayed for their soul and vowed before God to do whatever might be necessary to reclaim their sinful spirit?  Have you examined prayerfully your own soul and asked the Lord if there has been anything in your own behavior concerning your marriage that has proven wanting?  Have you come down to the depths of humility in seeking to learn how you can be a good, strong, wonderful person yourself? 
Perhaps he or she has abused you.  My dearest friends, I am so sorry.  In this case, my dear friends, I love you and I honestly ache to the very center for you.  But ask yourselves this.  Can they change?  Can they take anger management and other therapy classes?  Most importantly, can you forgive them and heal completely?  Forgiveness should be a given anyway, but healing can prove far more difficult.  Can you honestly care more about their spiritual journey than about your own desire to be rid of them immediately?  This is a very tricky moment in relationships, for no one should be subject to abuse and yet abusers are in desperate need of love, sometimes very tough love, and are no less human or of divine worth than the rest of us.  It is perhaps the most difficult and painful aspect of injured marriage to forgive and in my opinion likely the one that justifies divorce the most. 
My friends, do all you can to stick to the commitments you have made.  I would bring to your mind a point of logic that we sometimes forget.  Let us say that your spouse has made every single mistake in the book repeatedly.  Let us assume you are more than justified in filing for divorce.  And let us assume that in prayer you feel that God would still not have you file the paperwork.  Dear friends, use this as an opportunity to learn to love yourself, to give your all to follow the Lord, and to receive knowledge and blessings at His hands.  According to the great justice of God, one day, either your spouse will change and be the person you need him or her to be, or else they will strive to repent and, if finding they simply cannot change and keep injuring you and your family, they may decide the best way to protect you in love and compassion is to create safe distance by filing themselves.  Either way, your hands will be clean and God will shower blessings upon your head even as the dew of heaven.