Monday, June 28, 2010

The Fireside--A Game Changer

"Man, that guy has bleach blonde hair and a blue dress shirt. Just like Lance from church today. What is it with SGA guys and blue shirts and bleached hair anyway?" I thought as i parked my car to attend the Idaho Falls Fireside, held yesterday.

"Hey the woman with the guy is waving at me."

"OH Crap. That is Lance and his mom, dad and sister."

"I guess the Cat is out of the Bag"

Joy in the Journey--A Fireside put on by the East Idaho Stakes, was an uplifting experience. It also has changed my relationship with this issue. Before I was comfortable with people knowing about my challenges who also struggled, or were far away from my homeland. But this fireside was there, just a few miles from the homestead. But I'm glad I went.

After seeing Lance and his fam, i headed in the Stake Center adjacent to the temple. Making my way to the chapel I ran into another kid from the same street I grew up on. (Lance was the first). He wanted to know if this was the only fireside going on tonight. I told him, it was the only one I knew of. Then he offered, "I'm just here to listen to a friend's musical number."

Good for you Buddy.

Later on I saw my parents' stake president, and a member of the high council. I used to deliver newspapers to both. And the stake singles branch president. I'm only friends with 2 of his 6 kids, so no big deal.

But really it wasn't as big of a deal as I thought. Sure the idea the land of my near-nativity, being compromised by the secret i buried there so long ago was enough to get the nerves going, but I decided a year ago, before i went to my first Matis Fireside, that while I would prefer not to have everyone I know, know I'm attracted to men, I'm not going to let it keep me from getting support and giving support.

I went into the chapel looking around for other people i knew. Not sure what to do when I did run into them. Not seeing any others, i found a seat barely into the gym. As soon as I seated myself the program started. We sang, I need thee every hour and have a few opening remarks from Keving Lindley. Nothing really stood out to me there. Just typical stuff. Then I saw my parents come in and sit on teh far side of the gym. I had told them about the fireside, and they had wanted to come. I called them after I left for the fireside; they'd forgotten about it.

Anyway I was glad to see them. After Kevin told us where to break up, I went over to see my parents. By the time I got there, my mom was hugging Lance and talking to his family. Its no secret that Lance spent about 8 months living the lifestyle, and has just started trying to come back to the Church. He just graduated high school with my littlest brother. They've been friends, adn still are, even though they don't hang out alone much any more.

We left for your groups. My parents went to the leadership one, headed down to the Men's one.

I loved the Men's group. It started with a older gentlemen, who has been a stake pres, bishop, mission pres, yadda yadda. (I mean yadda in a respectful way). His son has been dealing with this a while. He said some good things, but seemed to keep his remarks very general. So general that sometimes I wasn't sure what he meant. But at the end when he had his wife read part of a letter from their son, i was touched. They have always loved their son, even when he was sowing his oats, and to see him returning to the fold touched me. His testimony was touching, and powerful.

The next speaker in the Men's group was a counselor from BYU-I. Where the former mission pres was very off the cuff, in the style of someone who has spoken to groups their whole life, the counselor read prepared remarks. He spoke of how sensitive our nature is as SGA members, and how we can be damaged by things that wouldn't normally hurt someone. He shared his love and spoke of our heart. How we can have a Heart of Anger, or Shame, or Fear, all responses to the challenge of SSA, but he finished with a Heart of Hope. How we can have that with our Lord Jesus.

That message was the change that went in me because of the fireside. I have had anger, shame, and fear hold a monopoly over my heart. But the fireside helped me find the heart of hope he spoke of.

We then moved on to the Q and A. Ty Mansfield and Kevin Lindley joined teh two speakers. Good questions. One was "What is our responsibility and what is God's in regards to SGA?"

I thought I knew the answer, we have to fight, and God has to redeem, save adn change.

Ty Answered that its different for each person. That we need to stay close and the Lord will let us know how we must deal with the challenge.

He was right. The Lord looketh on the inside of a man. He knows us, our trials, and if we are doing our best.

The counselor chimed in that the atonement is really needed by all.

A question posed about marriage. Ty recapped his courting and engagement to his wife. He also spoke of most of his friends who first are friends, then become intimate, and are able to have a wonderful life. based on Love, not attraction. He also spoke of Love, and how all love is Christ love, between man and women, and man and man. We just learn to express that love in the ways God wants.

The other point of the Q and A that interested me was when Lance asked "Can someone who has been immoral still go on a mission?"

The former mission president spoke to this one. He said, it depends, on how many partners and the length of time. He said if it has been one or two partners there is a good chance, but if it has been on going, they may be asked to serve a service mission, or as a ward missionary.

The Q and A ended too soon and we moved back to the chapel. I found my parents in the padded seats and sat with them. We had some pleasantries, don't quite remember what. But they seemed impressed with their session. They did talk about marriage, and finally were impressed that SGA doesn't just leave with marriage. We were able to have a good discussion about it. I've tried to tell them the same thing before, but I guess they needed to hear it from someone else. They also like some of the stuff that Steve said.

A musical number started off this session, called "You are Loved" The guy who performed it has a great voice and it was a good message. It was a little rough at parts. I could tell he was nervous, but his spirit shone through, and communicated the message of the piece.

Then Ty got up to speak. He had a good message. Got my dad to laugh. I loved his point comparing SGA to Adam and Eve partaking of the Fruit. Satan came and told them to hide. He worked through shame to keep them from progressing. To keep it in the dark. God called them out of shame and got them progressing again.

But were Adam and Eve proud they took the fruit? No, and Ty compared that to the whole gay pride movement. Really that was the message i found. We don't need to be ashamed of same gender attraction. And the culture of the church, and to be fair, the USA has pushed shame on us for so long. But at the same time, we shouldn't be prideful, and ignore the truths of God. It is a balance that I think is the key to finding joy in the journey.

Ty said alot of other things that escape me right now. It was a great talk. Glad I heard it.

The Stake President then gave some closing remarks. Brought up the Corinthians 6:

9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

His focus was how these saints had been these things, but they were washed by Jesus. How there is no hole so deep that we cannot climb out of it.

As soon as he was finished the guy next to me said, "oh S@@@ I've got to leave". Dunno what that was about.

We finished with Carry On. My Mom wanted to go with me, but I told her I was going to hang out for a bit. I wish I would have taken her up on that.

I finally made it home. Woke up this morning adn had a good breakfast chat with my parents about the fireside. It was really good.


Just a few more points

-I really felt that alot of the content was SGA 101, stuff I've heard already, but it was very good for the people who were learning for the first time about this stuff.

-A major push seemed to be members of the Church need to be more accepting of us. Not the life style, but of those who struggle. Excellent i say

-I really wish I'd seen teh Matis's in teh Family and Friends. That sounded Powerful

-I guess I need to talk to my family before they hear it from the kid down the street.

I'm blessed to have gone to the fireside. I loved it. I don't think i captured what happened in a way that gives is justice. I feel like my descriptions have been sloppy. I hope you can understand enough of it and feel the Spirit like I did last night.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

It hasn't even started and i ran into a family from my home ward. I knew this was a game changer when i decided to come

Friday, June 25, 2010

Hecka Sweet Fireside in Idaho Falls Coming Up

Apologies for the Utah dialect in the title.

I'm sure most of you have heard by know about the fireside in Idaho Falls on Sunday night. (click her for all the info) Braveone is a major force behind it, I know the Matis's are involved somehow, and so is Ty Mansfield. Its a 60 stake fireside, and was approved by Kim Clark.

I'm sure my excitement comes from the fact that this is my home. Good old East Idaho. Land of my developement. Where my friend got cited for mooning from my car, where I went to school, graduated, and left for my mission; the place i first made friends, felt love, got in a wreck, felt depression, and realize I had a unique circumstance.

I love the Snake River Valley more than any other patch of ground on Earth. I love moving pipe on the banks of the river while the Sun rises. I love the desolation of the sage brush desert. I love the lava tubes, the sand dunes, the shooting ranges, and the river bottoms.

And the people, straight, direct, relaxed, plodding. Forgiving. Inviting. People care about strangers there. They say "hi" to unknowns, they don't deal with traffic issues, they live there because they love the land, and they love family.

It was also the place where my personal hell started.

That's why I'm excited about this conference. The Land I Love will get a "Matis Fireside on Steroids"

I've told about ten different Idaho Bishops about my same-gender-attraction, and SUPRISE, many of them were as clueless as I was. But growth and understanding is coming in the Church. My bishops were never mean, or hateful, or disgusted, but we both were confused, and frustrated.

In my view there is a tight rope trail being forged for faithful SGA saints. Those saints who fell the burning fire of faith in their hearts, who stick strictly to their covenants and believe in the validity of the Church and Gospel. On one side of the tight rope is the self hate, doubt, and depression we feel, because of the ignorance of the world at large. On the other is the pit of sliding apostasy, rationalization, and sin, fueled by these burning urges.

In the middle is the tight rope of faith and peace we can find as we stay faithful to our God, keep the covenants we have made with him, and overcome the doubt and depression and hate, with in and without.

This fireside has the opportunity to accomplish that. So shed light on that tightrope of faith. Help Latter-day Saints keep the balance they need, so they won't lose years or decades floundering between depression and apostasy. I hope it helps other young men of Idaho, find support from family and friends, and realize that "sweet is the peace the gospel brings"

Thank you so much to everyone involve. For so long the Adversary has used both sides of the tightrope to bring down the Sons and Daughters of the Lord. You are shaking the Adversary's grip he has on us, and that is why the opposition is so intense


You don't know what you've got til its gone

Sometimes I wonder if my medication actually helps--its probably just sugar pills right?

Well I've been off it since Tuesday, and it sucks.

Can't wait for lunch when I finally get my prescription refilled.

sorry if I've been particularly dramatic the last few days.

Monday, June 21, 2010

An Experience I Heartily Reccomend

Shakespeare: Sure he is a great play write, but for me he has always seemed to be full of baggage. Not his fault, but hundreds of years has added layers of dust to his plays. Dust of tradition, of propriety of "high" art.

To me, Shakespeare seemed like the type of thing you had on your bookshelf and spoke of at fancy parties with cheese and wine.

Well a group in Utah is shaking the dust of Shakespeare.

The Grassroots Shakespeare Company performs Shakespeare like they did back in the Bard's day. No extravagant sets, in fact the group makes due with many anachronistic props, but they realize the core of Shakespeare is his characters.

Actors in Old England usually only got their scripts a day or so before the play, and the scripts only had their lines with a the lines spoken before included. Audiences often wanted to attend the premiers because they discovered along with the actors the characters motivation.

Grassroots has similar scripts, they also have no director providing an overarching vision. The actors control their character and play him off the other characters.

All in all it makes for a very enjoyable performance. Romeo is played superbly, Juliet is the fairest maiden, and the nurse has a five o'clock shadow and accordian. The players clearly enjoy each other and are having fun. But their dedication to their craft makes this play truly enjoyable.

Tonight you have the opportunity to see Romeo and Juliet in one of the most unique venues in Provo. The Castle, located behind the State Hospital in Provo, is a mammoth rock structure with a amphitheater. Its truly one of the seven wonders of Provo.

Shows are at 7:00 and 9:00, admission is pay what you will. For FHE or just a fun night, give the Bard a chance.

(The play runs through July 5th in Various Utah Locations. Click Here for more info --------------- Click here for directions to the castle

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Just a quick note. The Matis fireside tonight was on self esteem. It was good, even if it was a little dry. Basically it was about how and were we get our feelings of self worth.

Anyways, I just got back from giving a blessing to a friend; the reason she wanted a blessing?

Self Esteem issues.

Coincidence that was the topic tonight--I don't think so.

God does live, and has a hand in our lives.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

To the Girl Who Likes me

Hi, wow, this is awkward. But hey, just want to get my thoughts and feelings out there. So it turns out I'm not blind, or daft. But I do recognize your flirtations, your advances, and yes I do get your not so subtle hints sent through our common friends. You like me.

You like me not in the "lets watch a movie, get some grub, and dance to the jukebox" way, no its the, "I think I could see us having a intimate relationship, falling in love, getting married and have 13 kids way."

And to be honest. You have all the important things I want in a wife. You have a strong testimony, you even work at the temple once a week. You have a passion for life. No mindless TV for you on a Saturday night. You have freckles, but not to many. Its like miniature unicorn kitten hybrids danced on your face when you were born. Well that's weird, but you like my weirdness. And that's cool.

In face for an old fart like me to be blessed with someone like you to even give me the time of day, is pretty amazing, some may say miraculous. I feel for you. I hate that you are in pain becuase of your long time single. I hate the guy who broke up with you last April, for hurting you.

So last December after we went on our only date, I decided on a goal. I decided to make you one of my best friends. You see, that's really the only way a relationship can work for me. Its got to start internally and then become physical. You see, for the longest time I've only been sexually attracted to other men. And that is still the case, But in God's grace, I have developed limited female attraction. Enough that a deep part of me hopes things could work out. That we could have a life together. We could have kids, a house, a dog, family night, vacations, graduations, weddings, and grandchildren. All the riches of the world, or the ones we both want.

They are all in my grasp. If I just pursue it.

But when I get to this point, the thoughts come. Dark, depressing, suffocating thoughts.

Don't you deserve a man, a real, whole man who can satisfy you carnally?

Won't it hurt you when you find out the only man who would commit to you is gay?

What would you think, if I revealed everything to you?

Could we really make it work? Down through the ages?

Am I strong enough to keep my vows?

These thoughts and many others careen around my head like pinballs.

Really I do care about you. I want you to be happy. I know many of those thoughts come from fear, depression, others who may or may not have my best interests at heart, but they are what keeps me from reciprocating your advances. What keeps my from moving to the next step.

I need to take the leap. You can make your own informed decision, for while I have some flaws, there must be things you see in me that make me worth it. I think I'm coming to the point where I can try. I hope you don't runaway while I tear down these castle walls, I've built for myself.

I'm coming. Please wait.