Everything Has A Season

Some obvious known facts about me…I am a woman.  Further, I am a Black woman and if you take it a step further, I am a Black LDS woman.  Unless you are living under a rock, I’m sure you’ve heard about the Ordain Women movement in the LDS faith and its founder Kate Kelly.  If you haven’t, well Google it if you’d like.

There are a few blogs I’ve read recently on Sister Kelly’s excommunication that are so well written I see no need to reinvent the wheel.  Two of my favorite’s can be found here and here and the two embody everything I feel as a LDS woman.  What they don’t touch on though is my position/thoughts/feelings/sentiments/emotions/testimony of what it means to be a Black woman in a “white religion” (GASP…oh yes I sure did just go there).

I remember some 20 years ago when I joined this church all the grief I got from people concerned that I’d be treated poorly or who had genuine concern over the fact that I was joining a racist church.  One that didn’t even recognize Black men as equal to white men until the 1970’s.  Being a proverbial student type, I elected to tell these naysayers to stick it where the sun don’t shine, got baptized anyway (truth is truth after all) and then I set out on a mission to do two things…first to prove all the ways the Book of Mormon contradicted the Bible (still looking for proof 22+ years later) and get to the bottom of these racist claims.

For the sake of concise, I’m not going to get into all the people I talked to, all the research I did, all the books I read, or any of that.  What I have to share about how I feel as a Black woman knowing that my beautiful Black brothers weren’t allowed to hold the priesthood until the 1970’s is this…

It has been my experience that God ALWAYS gives us what we need when HE knows we need it most.  Power and authority is pointless without the ability to use it right?  Let’s consider the state of Black men in America in the 1970’s shall we…actually that’s a bitter pill to swallow so maybe we shan’t.  I will say this is not the first time God has withheld priesthood authority though.  I’m sure all of you Old Testament fans recall King Saul right?  Do you also recall how much dirt he got into for offering up a sacrificial animal without having the proper authority?  I’m pretty sure, it wouldn’t be too far of a stretch to say that the church was racist then too right because only priests were allowed to do this, not kings.  Maybe not racist, but certainly classist at the very least.

OK OK…I know what you’re thinking “crazy Black LDS Woman is going WHERE exactly”…Saul wasn’t given priesthood rights and responsibilities because he didn’t need and couldn’t use them.  Black LDS men were not given priesthood rights and responsibilities for the SAME reason.  At least that’s how I think of it anyway.  Let’s get real here people…in the mid 70’s we STILL had active KKK rallies and by active I mean publicized or well-known, we were barely 10 years post Civil Rights Era, churches and yes even schools were still segregated.  With this kind of national sentiment (always of course there are exceptions but the world is built on rules not exceptions), what exactly could a Black LDS man hope to do here in the United States?!?!?  I’ll tell you straight up…not much.  Women have not been ordained to the priesthood for the same reason.  It is presently unnecessary.

It wasn’t that church doctrine says Black men are inferior because they are Black, it wasn’t that the church wanted to stay segregated, it wasn’t that the church is racist or any of that.  It was simply that fair doesn’t always mean equal.  Even though Black LDS men didn’t receive the priesthood until 1978, they were not denied any of the blessings having the priesthood again on the earth allows.  This same thing goes for the Ordain Women movement as well.  In the Proclamation to the World on the Family, it says “all human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”  Yes I know a few other wormy cans that can be opened with this statement but the part that sticks out to me in light of the Ordain Women thing is this…”each has a divine nature and destiny.”  My destiny as a woman is not the same as my brother’s.  If we all had the same nature and destiny, wouldn’t we then be asexual beings and have no need for two genders?  Men and women, by divine design are created different, but equal.  I so love what Dallin H. Oaks said in a recent address on this issue and a beautiful image was created highlighting a key part of this talk.  Check this out:

 

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And, if you’d like to take a few minutes to watch the entire address, please click play on the video player below.  I will say that Elder Oaks is one of my all-time-fave General Authorities EVER and it’s so worth the time it takes to watch this talk.  Even if you aren’t LDS, especially if you aren’t LDS actually.

I do not take offense to the fact that my fellow Black LDS men weren’t able to hold the priesthood until 1978 and I am not at all offended that I as a woman cannot presently hold the priesthood.  Just like the time came when it was prudent for Black LDS men to hold the priesthood, should the time come that the ordination of women becomes necessary, the prophet will declare it and “whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same”.

Some of the best counsel I received came from a priesthood holder I adore, my chosen Dad.  He said we must remember that there are two forces at work in this world and both are equally committed to their cause.  Which we are subject to depends on who’s counsel we choose to take.  It saddens me that Sister Kelly is choosing to listen to the influence of Satan.  How do I know this is fact?  Because only good comes from God and pushing an agenda and demanding doctrinal changes repeatedly due to a stated (and publicized) believe that the ordination of women is necessary is anything but good.  If it’s not good, it must then be evil/lies/deceit and Satan is the father of all that.  I pray that she finds peace in whatever future endeavors she pursues and I pray that those she has led astray (or those who are also listening to Satan and who share her believe) will be able to recognize whose influence they are under and act accordingly.

Yes GOD does chastise/punish/discipline.  In fact, “for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” (Hebrews 12:6 KJV).  Remember the dirt Saul got into, and then David lost his exhalation for killing Uriah and I know you all know about Cain and Able and on and on.

And there it is there ladies and gents…it takes us both…male and female.  If men were supposed to do everything women did, they’d have a uterus.  If women were intended (by divine design) to do everything men do, they’d have the priesthood.  Again, fair doesn’t mean equal.

Hero: Another Name for my Dad

If you’re reading this blog regularly, then you may recall reading about my adopted parents.  My dad is a Vietnam Vet, a loving husband, a father, grandfather, great-grandfather.  He is a son, a brother, an uncle, a cousin…he is countless things to countless people but to me, he is my hero.  This was the Father’s Day card I made to honor him:

 

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The official name of the card is something like full front tri-fold shutter or something close to that.  The center sentiment and the “Best Dad Ever” and “Happy Dad’s Day” sentiments are from Verve.  1 Thes verse is from Our Daily Bread Designs.  On the lines at the left, I wrote a very sappy note to my Daddy.  Upon receipt he called me and thanked me for the “most beautiful card” he has ever received.  He’s one of the most amazing and beautiful men I know so it’s fitting he received a beautiful card.

Love you Dad, thanks for being my hero!

One Moment In Time

And no, not as in that glorious song by Whitney Houston…

You ever have those moments in time when, despite your best efforts to control yourself, you’re consumed by emotion and by emotion I mean uncontrollable emotions that hit you in the gut totally unexpected and leave you reeling for days or weeks or months.  No just me?!?!  I figured.

June 11th was such a day for me.  It should have been totally amazing celebrating a milestone in the life of someone I love.  The problem though is that someone loves someone I disdain.  Last time we were in this scenario much to my dismay, this person I totally detest actually touched me.  I vowed that if he touched me again I’d go to jail.  Apparently he was warned and he didn’t touch me or even speak to me but in the moment or two before the end of the night, I saw him.  Seeing him is almost always an excruciating experience.  This time was no different.

The moment I saw him I immediately began to be anxious.  My fight or flight stimulus had been triggered and I just wanted out and away from the situation.  Unfortunately, a few moments later I caught a glimpse of him again and what happened later that night still has my head spinning a bit nearly a week later.

It has been nearly 30 years since the last time I was sexually abused or raped by this man and yet, that night I sat in my craft space afraid to sleep knowing I’d have flashbacks and nightmares of the situation all over again.  How can something that happened what feels like a lifetime ago to a totally different person still continue to cause such negative emotions now all these years later?  I have no idea, but it did.  When sleep finally did come, it was short and full of experiences that I can’t forget no matter how hard I try.  One of the worst nights I’ve had in a very long time.  After four hours of sleep that was riddled with some of the most painful memories I have, I finally couldn’t take it anymore and woke up and got the day started.  Unfortunately the heartache continued throughout the next day.

Try as I might to stay distracted and busy, I couldn’t keep my mind off the events of my childhood that resulted in things like at least 14 different foster homes, attending 6 different high schools, and countless years lost with my siblings.  I’ve cried so many tears over the abuse I suffered at this man’s hands you’d think I’d be all cried out but alas, every now and again a there’s a moment or two in time that leaves me in tears all over again.  This time it was a whole different experience though…

I cried at the memories themselves, but mostly I felt this overwhelming sense of unworthiness.  Abuse kind of does that to you sometimes…

Here I am 26 years post abuse and seeing that man for just the second or two I did in the moment or two I did had me in tears questioning what I have done to deserve all the goodness I have in my life.  I grew up feeling so worthless and unloved and unvalued that, as I went about that Thursday day I found myself filled with doubts.  I found myself wondering what it is about me that is deserving the devotion and admiration of my children, the heart and soul of the only man I’ve ever loved with all that I am, the love and affection of the friends that I have in my life and the support of all the chosen family that now surrounds me.

I found myself questioning why my adoptive parents would even WANT to adopt someone so violated and often still so cracked and broken as I am.  I found myself questioning all that is good in my life and wondering if this horrible man had never been introduced to me, how different would my life have been. Would have been better?  Would it have been worse?  For a moment or two I even found myself questioning my worth to my Heavenly Father if something so bad could have happened to me so many times.  It’s not like this man I speak of was the first or only to take advantage of me.  In fact, with few exceptions, every man I’ve ever known from before I was born has hurt me or taken advantage of me from before birth well into adulthood.  Aside from worthy active priesthood holders from church, I can count how many men haven’t abused me on one hand.

Usually I’m really good at seeing the bright side of things.  That Wednesday and Thursday evening though it was pretty tough to see anything other than all the countless times I was used and abused to bring him pleasure. I’ve forgiven him; I’ve accepted it as part of my history; I’ve been in therapy for years to heal.  Why then, does seeing a glimpse of him bring back so much unpleasantness?  Oh how I wish forgiven meant forgotten.  Since it doesn’t however, I suspect there will continue to be moments in time such as this.

The last time I had to share a once in a lifetime event with this man it was four years ago, hopefully it will be many more years before I have to do it again and if not, prayerfully the love of my life will be at my side to support me through it by reminding me that he loves me and I am worth it.  Funny how one man (or several in my case) can take away all the worth you have ever felt and then another can, in an instant, give it all back to you and then some.

Font Focus Challenge: Verve Stamps

Sometimes we just have to treat ourselves and Verve Stamps are among my all time favorites.  I love that Julee is now designing stamps that can work on card fronts or interiors and one such set that works perfectly either place is the Words of Wisdom set.  I seriously can’t get enough of it and am glad I decided to let it be what I treated myself to for my belly button birthday.  Here’s what it looks like:

 

There are some real beauties in here I’m telling you!  I wanted to use the sentiment that reads “you are never to old to set a new goal or dream a new dream” in the Diva Dare challenge but the particular sentiment I had must have been a teenager as it was pretty rebellious.  Wouldn’t ink right and then when I finally could MAKE it ink right, it wouldn’t stamp right…no matter what I tried.  See for yourself:

I posted this image to the Verve’s Facebook page and Julee (the owner) promised to send me a better behaving stamp.  It arrived today along with a handwritten note from Julee.  Oh how I love great customer service.  Check out the note from Julee…yes I’m keeping it.

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Anyway, I opted to use this sentiment with the Font Focus challenge instead.  Though I suppose technically it DOES qualify for the Diva Dare because there are flowers and butterflies in the background paper.  I don’t know what the background paper is, it was gifted to me by a friend from church.  The card base and piece the sentiment is on is from a pkg I got at my LSS and the beautiful majestic labels eight die cut from Spellbinders was cut from the DCWV shimmer stack leftovers I used in a earlier project.  The ribbon in this project is organza ribbon I bought from Dollar Tree and was tied using my hideously ugly bow board.  Finally I lifted the labels 8 die cut and sentiment off the card a smidge using foam squares from Creative Memories.  I like that this could be used for a girl (it’s pretty) or a boy (it’s not THAT pretty) to remind them that it’s never too late to set goals and dreams.  With this card, I’ve now entered Verve challenges 6 times.  Hopefully I win, but if not it’s been fun being inspired to create again!

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Altered Canvas Diva Dare Style

I had no idea what I was doing when I created this.  I simply knew that the challenge required a butterfly and a flower and I thought maybe since I just got new dedicated craft space I could spruce the area up with some art.  Once this project was totally complete I had to take a step back and say WOW!  Maybe it will give you that same reaction:

 

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My stamp choice is again from Verve’s Words of Wisdom set.  The butterflies are stickers that I believe are made by K & Company and the ribbon is random from my stash.  I used lattice rectangles and another Spellbinders die but I can’t remember which set it is and am too lazy to go look it up ha ha ha.  The flower is something I created using leaves and stamens from Wild Orchard Crafts and paper from my stash.  The first step was to paint the canvas.  Once painted and dried I embellished and the result is what you see here.

Verve Diva Dare with Lever Card

I’ll be the first to admit, this card was quite challenging for me and I’m not sure I even totally love this but here it is regardless.

 

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Stamps used were the Words of Wisdom set from Verve.  The card base comes from DCWV shimmer stack and the patterned paper is from their Glam Gal stack.  I used Tim Holtz distress ink in two different purple colors for the flowers and butterflies on the right panel but they are kind of hard to see.  The sentiments were stamped using versafine ink which continues to be a favorite ink.  Not my best work that’s for sure…maybe I’ll have to just practice this card style a few more times before I like who knows.

He knows the plans

I have to say that today’s project may very well be my all time favorite one ever.  Till the next all time favorite ever anyway.  This Diva Dare has really inspired me that’s for sure.  And so, without further adieu allow me to present:

 

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The sentiment is from Verve of course but I have no idea of it’s a plain jane or comes from a set.  I’m guessing it’s a plain jane but I don’t know.  The card base and mint green colored label is from a random pack of paper I get at a LSS and.  The darker blue/slate paper is from DCWV’s Shimmer Stack and the flowers in the upper right are from Wild Orchid Crafts.  I tore them apart, colored them using Broken Glass and Faded Jeans distress stain from Tim Holtz then used my embossing gun to try and shape them the way they are here.  I glued them to the card using my glue gun and of course, the die cuts are from Spellbinders.  I believe the sets are majestic labels 8, labels 8 and winged things.  Finally, the background paper is from Creative Memories but has since been discontinued.

Although this card has no set recipient in mind, I find the sentiment perfect comfort in a personal situation I’m dealing with and trust that His plans are far superior to any I may have for myself.  Thanks for looking!