I just read a great article by a dad who works as an EMT for the Fire Department of New York. Last year, Avonte Oquendo, an Autistic boy of 14 from New York, disappeared from school. Just walked out the door, and has not been heard from since. What is so sad is that even if he is found, he wouldn’t be able to tell you what happened to him in the interim, because he is non-verbal. When a child on the spectrum disappears, the chances of harm to them are greater, due to their higher vulnerability.
I have two sons on the Autistic Spectrum, and this author has one too. If one of my boys went missing, I would want our Utah EMS people to be aware of the special needs of these kids, and consider them when putting together a search of this kind. Not long ago, a boy also went missing in my valley. What brought it close to home for me was that this particular boy had the exact same name as my son, was the same age, and also has an ASD condition. Many of my friends and relatives mentioned that they had to double check to make sure it wasn’t my son being described in the news. Fortunately for the Utah family, their son was found safe and sound within 24 hours. Avonte and his family have yet to find relief. Please read this great intro article on ASD. The more of us who get educated on this, the better! Utah happens to have the largest ASD population in America. The chances that someone you know is suffering are high.
Poaching Daisies has hit the bookstore shelves! Come get one before they are all gone! Here is my Amazon review.
This taken at Eborn Books, on April 19, 2013: Downtown Salt Lake City, Utah.
And Happy Anniversary to Mick and Carole Warburton, who on this day celebrated 34 years of marriage!
A few days ago Baby Blues and I had a chance to go and meet a great author, who also happens to be my former teacher! Carole Thayne Warburton was my 8th grade English teacher, who came to Pleasant Grove Junior High to teach Art and English to the bunch of us. I’m pretty sure we were a difficult class to work with. And of course ANY person who can shut themselves up with moody teens for eight hours a day is pretty dang amazing. But Mrs. Warburton encountered an exceptionally antsy group of kids in us. Thanks Carole for putting up with us! You did a great job, even though we never told you that. 🙂
Carole is a great writer! She left Pleasant Grove after only a year with us, and settled in Cache Valley. The night of this book signing I went home and read one of her earlier books, “Just Shy of Paradise” in one sitting. I loved that it was set in an area that was special to my father’s Jorgensen and Sorensen ancestors for a number of generations. Many of those I love are resting peacefully in the Hyrum Utah Cemetery. I can’t wait to get into Poaching Daisies, it promises to be another page turner!
And by the way, here’s a shout out to my dear friends in the H family, originally of San Jose! I was pleasantly surprised to see our good friend DH on this night, who happens to work at Eborn Books, a store I intend to bring my husband back to very soon. I love the H’s almost as much as I love my very own family. I was blessed with great mentors as a youth. G and RM were among the most influential to me.
The LDS church has just launched a new website, designed to open up a dialogue for greater support of the LGBT individuals in the church.
I don’t think the LDS church leadership is changing the core LDS doctrine about homosexuality. But the emphasis on reaching out to the LGBT population is long overdue. Mormons are compassionate people. The vast majority of LDS individuals, when presented with an opportunity to support and love a friend or fellow Mormon in distress, do so wholeheartedly. One issue that comes to play here is that the stigma surrounding homosexuality has historically been such that those who are wired that way have not been comfortable sharing the fact. Truly they have suffered in silence, fearing that coming out would cause others to reject or despise them. This is a sad truth that needs to be amended as quickly as possible.
This fact is not new, it is just that LDS leadership has finally determined that the time has come to right this situation that plays out all too often. It’s not that their level of compassion was unacceptable, given the level of awareness that prevailed before the SSM debate matured. But the capacity for compassion has obviously increased, as it naturally does when one is faced with new information that challenges an old belief. As the plight of LGBTs who dwell in our LDS circles has become better-understood, church leadership has taken notice. I doubt that the actual number of LGBTs in the church is known even now, but there is recognition that it is perhaps much higher than was once thought. But even if the number turned out to be smaller than believed, it is no less important to reach out now, with unconditional love.
It can be argued that there are some among our people (perhaps especially in places like Utah and Idaho) who live in a Mormon cultural bubble, rarely venturing out of their comfort zone. To consider the plight of the LGBTs who dwell in LDS circles, there needs to be exposure to LGBTs. In predominantly Mormon communities, unless someone has such a child of their own, it is unlikely that they will personally know anyone who is open about their LGBT status. The need to consider how to reach out to those families who are raising these kids, or single LGBTs trying to live peacefully in the church, is simply not widely manifest in daily experience. Ignorance is lamentable, but not grounds for condemnation. The good news is that the dialogue is opening up, from Utah to the farthest reaches of church membership.
Fortunately for me, I grew up in the Bay Area. And while I didn’t have numerous close friends of the LGBT stripe, I had such acquaintances in high school and college. I can say that my own capacity for compassion has increased dramatically as I have spent time researching the SSM arguments on both sides. One epiphany came to me last year as I finished up a course on families in crisis. In my textbook the authors submitted that LGBT families who seek mental health services are still not adequately supported. More specifically, contemporary therapies still had not fully validated the LGBT families created and raising children. In this sense, it was very obvious to me that for the sake of their innocent children, these families needed to be supported and strengthened. ( I still don’t agree that any child should be willfully deprived of a close association with both his biological parents. This causes damage and unanswered questions that will likely follow him throughout his life, until he finds the answers. But I’m digressing here. ) My point is that my own level of compassion has increased over the last few years because I have kept myself open to understanding the LGBT cause, and why they long for widespread cultural affirmation of their lifestyle.
While the LDS church is not any closer to solemnizing gay marriages in their temples, they are seeking to encircle the LGBT population more tightly with personal love and support that the church, and more especially individual members, can offer. I had a gay man for a neighbor some time ago. He recently died, and to my knowledge, never acted on his homosexual impulses. He never married, but remained firmly in his LDS beliefs. He was deeply loved and greatly respected in the congregation and neighborhood. He was a gem of a man, and no one doubted that he had made great sacrifices to live his beliefs. It was the great trial of his lifetime to do so. I believe he went straight into the loving arms of Jesus Christ, the moment his spirit left his body.
Now for a short lesson on my LDS beliefs: God does allow for life-altering challenges to occur in each person’s life. Every last person is severely tested. For me, that means mental illness and addictive tendencies, and children who have atypical wiring of the autistic stripe. For my late neighbor and gay friend, it was his lot to find balance between his deeply-held LDS faith and his atypical orientation of the homosexual type. He is a gem of a person who suffered all of his life in a society that did not validate his truest identity. For my sister, her trial is a body racked with various lifelong physical and mental ailments. For another dear friend of mine, it is the lifelong battle to break the chain of abusive family processes. God does not make mistakes, and loves each of His children unconditionally. I don’t have all the answers.
I don’t know why some of us have been compelled to live in a society that has mostly condemned them. I expect the Jewish among us may be best equipped to empathize. I believe we are placed in circumstances where we will grow in the way that we personally need to grow, in order to meet our respective life purposes. I know a dear woman who has felt compelled by God to be a voice for mothers and their gay children. She has provided a place for their voices to be heard. I highly recommend her blog, and applaud her efforts. We are all fallen in our natures, and Christ has stepped in to take all of our pain and suffering on his shoulders. I don’t feel that I am in a position to judge those of the LGBT stripe. I hope that if I had a friend who is still in the closet that s/he would be comfortable sharing their orientation with me. We each have impulses that we have to subdue in one way or another. We also have to learn to love ourselves exactly for who we are, without condition.
That journey toward the ideal continues beyond this earth life. I’m perfectly happy to allow for the great diversity among us. LDS doctrine positions itself among the Christian religions not as Universalist, but much closer to that view than most other denominations. When we die, we will ALL eventually receive perfect, immortal bodies. Those of us who do not know Christ in this life will have a chance to know him in the next. Now before I completely veer off of the beaten track here, let me conclude by saying that I am happy to see the dialogue for supporting LGBTs opening up among the LDS faithful. It is long overdue as I mentioned. I say better late than never!
Michael and I took the kids down to see Grandma and Grandpa Smith in Texas for the Thanksgiving holiday. While we were there, Mom Smith was kind enough to keep the kids while Michael and I stole away for a day to Galveston. We’ve been to the Houston area many times, but had never spent much time away to explore the fun places in the surrounding country. So this time we decided that Galveston would be on our list of places to see.
Upon researching the possible places to stay in Galveston, a bed and breakfast was clearly the way to enjoy the history and old personality of this beautiful sea port. Grace Manor, at 1702 Postoffice Street, turned out to be the perfect choice.
Grace Manor was built in 1905, soon after the deadliest hurricane in U.S. history had destroyed the seaside town of Galveston, TX
Being that it was the weekend right before Thanksgiving, they had only one other couple staying there on that night. According to the lovely woman who managed the B&B, when Hurricane Ike hit landfall on September 13, 2008, the whole island was hit hard. The historic district was no exception. According to her account, Grace Manor had eight feet of water in the basement after the category 2 hurricane made landfall, and the entire yard was destroyed. Fortunately the upper levels of the home were left undamaged.
It was such a beautiful old home, I had to take pictures of the rooms. I was so interested in the history of the old place, and enjoyed the ambience so much. I actually dreamed that night that I was living in Victorian times. We chose to stay in the largest suite, the Island Palm Room. It is beautiful, with a veranda off to the side.
The View from the Veranda
The Gorgeous Island Palm Bedroom and Bathroom with Original Clawfoot Tub
Michael Peeking out of Front Parlor
Lovely Reading Room full of Magazines and History Books about Galveston
Gorgeous Breakfast Room
We were served a three course breakfast along with the other couple who was staying there. We had such a great conversation that lasted two or three hours, long after the delicious breakfast foods were consumed.
Much commiserating about Mitt Romney’s recent loss of the presidential election, and just great conversation was had with a Houston native and her husband, who hails from London.
The Grand Old Opera House, built in 1894, Main Entrance and Stairway going up to the Lobby
Inside the Auditorium, facing the Stage
View from the Stage
View from the Coveted Box Seats, Stage Left
It was worth the $2 price to go on a self-guided tour! We explored all of the nooks and wonders of this beautiful old arts venue. My pictures turned out poorly, but there are better ones on the site I linked in the title above. We really enjoyed the freedom to just wander around and enjoy the spirit of the place.
This amazing sand sculpture, created on site by Tibetan monks in 1993, is still preserved in the lobby off the second floor. It is a marvel to behold.
Touring the Strand District of Galveston
Lots of Personality. This random trumpet, in front of one of the buildings just begged to be photographed.
On our way out of town, we stopped at the Sea Wall, also constructed soon after the deadly 1900 hurricane.
Aren’t We Sweet???
These huge blocks of stone were more colorful than they appear in this picture. They reminded me of the granite countertops that many people have in their kitchens today. I actually had an image in my mind of walking across piles of countertops, as we made our way to the sea. Worth the stop. I sometimes miss the beaches of Northern California where I grew up, and this little detour was a happy reminder of the good old days.
A crossroads in my homeschooling journey occurred in 2006. Here is what happened, when I attended a homeschool leadership conference in Waxahachie, Texas. I have long since left Texas, and returned to Utah where my husband’s workplace keeps him. But I have never lost the vision that we need more statesmen and stateswomen in America right now, who are willing to stand up and make their voice heard. We have all been passively giving away our freedom to the government for many decades now. It’s time to turn that around, and get educated on how to influence the process. Don’t be afraid! Our country will be better when more of us stand up and get involved.