Tag: LDS singles

A Self Reliant LDS Single Woman

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This is one of my religious Mormon-centric posts so feel free to skip if not interested in that topic.

I’ve been mulling over in my brain a gospel topic the last few days .  Mothers Day (or what I call Female Guilt Day) always makes me feel a little sad.  People can give me all kinds of reasons why that shouldn’t be but all that does is make me keep my sadness to myself.  It doesn’t make it go away.

I know all the easy answers, the promises of a family for the righteous.  I get all of that but it doesn’t mean a day celebrating the big part of being a woman I don’t have doesn’t sting a little bit.

I was particularly thinking about my new job and how grateful I am for the chance to do something I really love.  There are no words for how much that means to me. A smile worthy of smilingldsgirl covers my face whenever I think about it.  I am so excited!

It also occurred to me this week that taking such a position would probably be difficult if I had a family or was married.  The position pays less than I was making and is at least for now part-time. However, it is an opening to start a new life, a new career! That’s the exciting part!

Plus, I still get to work from home and my finances are such that I can afford to take a pay cut.  I also might not get insurance through my employer.  We are still researching that. I feel so fortunate that I am at a spot in my life to take such a job.  🙂

Here’s the thing I could use some guidance on-

I try to be positive and not be a negative Nelly when it comes to my single status in a family church.  It comes and goes but in general I think I am happier than most other singles I know.  Nevertheless, for some reason it feels more justified in talking about the downsides of being single rather than the upsides.  I can’t completely put it into words but I feel like I am not supposed to be ‘so’ happy in the single life, only moderately happy.

Let me try to explain-

It’s quotes like these that confuse me.

“And I would also caution you single sisters not to become so independent and self-reliant that you decide marriage isn’t worth it and you can do just as well on your own…”

President Benson

So, we are supposed to be independent and self-reliant but not ‘so’ independent and self reliant.  We have to live a good life but not to the point where we feel we can ‘do just as well on your own’.  What does that mean?  Should I feel continually like I am not quite doing ‘just as well’ on my own? Just as well as who? Married people?  Just as well at what? Living?

He goes on:

“Certainly we want our single sisters to maximize their individual potential, to be well educated, and to do well at their present employment. You have much to contribute to society, to your community, and to your neighborhood.”

“But…”

“We earnestly pray that our single sisters will desire honorable marriage in the temple to a worthy man and rear a righteous family, even though this may mean the sacrificing of degrees and careers. Our priorities are right when we realize there is no higher calling than to be an honorable wife and mother”

So if I read him right we can do many great things and that is encouraged, but at the same time we must  be always hoping and waiting to give all those things up for marriage and family. It seems to me that somebody isn’t going to ‘maximize their full potential’ if they are constantly keeping an escape hatch available for their ‘true and higher calling’?

I know so many single Mormon women who feel unfulfilled because of that escape hatch.   It’s like you end up doing a lot of mediocre things because the big thing you really want or feel a need to do you can’t.  The thing that will make you the happiest you can’t do so you settle for medium-level happiness.

That doesn’t seem right.  God wants us to be happy no strings attached. It doesn’t say ‘the plan of happiness except for single people who are merely content’

What is so wrong with devoting yourself completely to the role that God has given you to play at the moment you are playing it?  In my experience it is only in such obedient moments that  I am open to the promptings to change and grow, maybe even meet someone.  Is that too independent, or too self reliant?  I don’t think so.

It seems to me I am always happiest in life when I dive right into an experience with no back up plan or escape hatch.  In fact, enjoying my single lifestyle can feel unfeminine and the opposite of the ooey goey woman I hear about on Mothers Day.

It can also seem like I am saying the single life is better than being married but I’m not.  It’s just different. (And I do not think the single life is inherently selfish either.  I hate when people say things like that)

I know such feelings are ridiculous.  I should be happy when happy things happen but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at times conflicted with how happy I should feel.

What worries me is I don’t want to live a life in second place.  The silver medalist, to my married friends who get the gold, and that’s kind of what the quote says.  After all, we as singles can contribute to our employment, community, society and neighborhoods but… the higher calling is motherhood. That’s what we believe. And I think that is why Mother’s Day can be a little sad for me. It’s the day of the year where that Gold medal is thrown in our faces and we realize we have the silver.

But, I just can’t live my life that way.  I believe that God has a plan for all of us and while we may not be fated to be with a particular person, I believe He does know when that event will happen.  He needs me right now to work in his single vineyard and that is not a second place position.

Does that mean I am not open to a different vineyard?  Of course not.  Nothing would thrill me more than to find that Great Love but I am not going to settle for sloppy seconds waiting for it.

So, instead I will be happy for the good things in my life and not worry whether I am ‘too independent’ or ‘too self-reliant’ any more.  God knows my heart and He has told me many times before when I need to straighten up and refocus my priorities.

I was a good missionary because I gave it all to that calling.  I was able to get on that plane and have no regrets, and I don’t see why this phase of my life with my new job is any different?  I’m going to give it my all and have a blast along the way.  I am so excited!

I’m going to allow myself to feel 100% happiness while doing it.   The truth is I am self-reliant and independent but I am also obedient and have a missionary heart.  The Lord knows me, and He is guiding my path. He certainly helped me get this job so I might as well have a ball while doing it.

Anyway, forgive these ramblings.  It was just something I needed to work out and I think I did as I typed.  Hopefully my musings are helpful to someone out there.

Happy Mothers Day to all you amazing moms and to my own Mother.

Single Christmas Traditions

I wrote this years ago but was recently asked how I keep Christmas as a single adult and basically this still holds true. I started my own traditions that are just for me and do them every year without fail, even last year when it was such a mess with moving and building my house (although I didn’t put up a large tree) the spirit of the tradition is always kept.

Smilingldsgirl's Weblog

It’s hard to believe there is only a week left until Christmas.  As is usually the case, the month of December has flown by and I have packed it in with tons of cool Holiday experiences.  I decided a long time ago I was never going to miss out on a full life because I am single- this includes Christmas.  As a result, I have established a number of my own Christmas traditions that are unique to me (meaning I did not necessarily do them in my family while growing up).

1. The first ‘single tradition’ I have developed is what I call my “memory tree”.  I’ve mentioned my tree before on this blog, but it’s a way to decorate with ornaments that symbolize or were purchased concurrent with special moments/vacations in my life.  I have an ornament for the colleges I attended, the states I’ve lived in, the places…

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Read the Scriptures

This morning I want to tell my fellow Mormons about something exciting I have discovered.  First a confession- for years I have struggled to find a system of scripture reading that worked for me.

As a single adult I would often get distracted from my intent on reading and forget to do it and when I did remember the results were frequently less than satisfying.  Maybe it’s bad to say but more often than not I felt kind of bored reading the same material week after week and hearing the same commentary track inside my brain, new insight seemingly few and far between.

I tried different study guides and reading systems but nothing seemed to help, so scripture reading became something I do more out of obedience than anything else and that will only get you to remember so far and help you so much.  What to do?

With recent obstacles I had been challenged multiple times to make scripture reading more of a priority.  In particular, my bishop asked me to read the Ensign (our Church magazine) each day but if I struggled to read the scriptures how could I add The Ensign on to it?

Well, I have come upon a solution that will sincerely help me and I hope you as well.  There is a website called http://www.readthescriptures.com and it is a paid service that makes reading the scriptures and other church materials in an organized way easy.    It costs $4.99 a month but I’m very excited about it.  Seems well worth it to me.

Here’s how it works:

You log on to www.readthescriptures.com and make an account.   Then you select ‘Create a Schedule’.  This will take you to the ‘Available Reading Selections’ screen.  You can see below that you have a wide arrange of choices including reading your sunday lessons, church cannon and The Ensign.  Select what you want to read and then it will ask you how frequently and how fast you want to get through the selection.  This will create a reading schedule for you to accomplish your goal.

available readingEach day of your schedule you will receive an email with a link to what you are reading.  email scripturesYou then follow the link and it takes you to the scripture or article on lds.org and you can read or have it read to you.  Then when you are done you log back on to your email and click ‘Complete’.  If for some reason you don’t want to read that section you select ‘Send More’.   After selecting complete you will be taken to this screen where you can get an idea of your progress:

READ THE SCRIPTURESIt’s a simple system but I think it is really going to help me to organize my scripture reading, be reminded and set goals.  They also have journal, highlighting and other services to work with your reading.  The fact is I’m a creature of routine and this website is going to help me make those reoutines.  It’s pretty exciting.

Like I said, clearly you can get all of this information without the service.  You can just read the scriptures in bed at home but I found this way more engaging and helpful.

What do you do to make scripture reading work in your life?

Thanksgiving for One vs 2.0

So the guest post is here!  Check it out at http://littleferrarokitchen.com/2013/11/thanksgiving-1-guest-post-smilinglds-girl/ .  It is based on a post I did last year when I was home for thanksgiving and missing the food I was used to. Take a look at last years post and you will see how much better this one is (especially the photography.  Thanks Dad! https://smilingldsgirl.com/2012/11/25/thanksgiving-for-one/

I’m really proud of how everything turned out so please take a look and make some comments on Sam’s or my site.  Pass it on (especially to the singles that you know)

Last year I found myself facing a new predicament in life.  For the first time in my 32 years I was alone for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Now I had friends who had me over for meals and the like but for the season and for Christmas day I was alone.

This is a situation that more Americans are finding themselves in every day.   In his wonderful book, Living Alone, Eric Klinenberg says that “In 1950, 22 percent of American adults were single. Now that number is almost 50 percent. One in seven adults lives alone”.    One in 7 and yet our society is still built on the assumption of companionship. When I venture out to say a movie or a nice restaurant by myself it is a near social pariah.  I do it anyway but it is still definitely outside the norm.

So, where does that leave the single who is alone for even more family-centric moments such as birthdays or holidays?  If they cannot find an urban tribe, quasi-family to associate with then they are left to celebrate alone, a depressing prospect for most of us.

Well, last year I decided to change that.  I was going to be spending the holidays alone and I would make the best of it.  I did pretty well through Halloween and even Christmas but Thanksgiving proved particularly difficult.  I had a friend invite me to her place for the actual day which was lovely but it wasn’t the meal I was used to and I found myself feeling nostalgic for the flavors of my family.

The logical solution was to make Thanksgiving for myself but how can one make a feast for one?  It seems impossible?  Fortunately I am not the type who is left undaunted by challenges and I decided to give it a try and you know what I learned- you can do Thanksgiving for One!  It is not only possible but very enjoyable. 

Thanksgiving for 1 (Guest Post by SilingLDS Girl} via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

Here’s what I learned:

        1. Plan ahead so you don’t have all the cooking in one day.  Both  years I have done thanksgiving for one I have made the desserts the day before.  You could also do the rolls the day before if that is important to you.   Since it saves well I make the cranberry relish or sauce in advance also.
        2.  Pick 2 sides and make them really well.  It is impossible to duplicate a huge thanksgiving meal for one person and if you did how would you eat it all (and let’s be honest you will be a little sad so tons of food and lonely person probably not good combo).  I chose to make mashed potatoes and stuffing.   Sweet potatoes are an everyday item and not that special for me, so I will leave them out.
        3. There’s no reason to make everything yourself.  I used canned rolls because rolls aren’t that important to my Thanksgiving but you could certainly buy them from a good bakery or your local market.  You could even buy the turkey already cooked (or a rotisserie chicken) and focus on sides.
        4. Pick a veggie that you can buy in small amounts.  For example a head of lettuce is often too much for me and goes bad.  Green beans are great because I can buy just a handful and not waste.  One ear of corn, a couple carrots, things like that save on time and money.
        5. Don’t forget little details like real whipped cream and cranberry relish.  If your family always has a pickle platter have pickles.  Or if you secretly hate the family jello salad don’t make it!  That’s the great thing about cooking for yourself you can do whatever you want.  If you want to make turkey curry go for it.  Want to try sugar free recipe, go for it.   Want to make collard greens or eat ham instead of turkey do it!
        6. Because you are cooking for 1 live a little.  Buy lobster or mussels, get the good french butter or be like me and get a massage while on break!  There will be plenty of your life when you are scrimping and saving every cent to pay for kids and retirement.  An occasional treat for a single’s dinner is highly worth it!  Plus, you can afford to go organic, get grass-fed meat, artisan bread.  Whatever excites you!
        7. Plan on ways to save meals and use components for 2nd and 3rd meals.  Like having turkey sandwiches or potato soup after thanksgiving dinner.  I make up these little TV dinners so they are ready to go when I’m in the mood for a little home cooking.To quote the amazing Judith Jones “Some say Why would I want to go to all that trouble just for me? My answer is: If you like good food, why not HONOR YOURSELF enough to make a pleasing meal and relish every mouthful.”  Cheers to me!

Menu

Turkey breast roasted with fresh herbs and gravy

Cornbread stuffing with maple sausage and apricots

Yukon gold mashed potatoes

Cranberry relish

Green beans with bacon vinaigrette

Rolls

No bake pumpkin cheesecake

Turkey Breast  

Thanksgiving for 1 (Guest Post by SilingLDS Girl} via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

  • Thaw bird completely before cooking.  Make a paste with fresh herbs and butter then rub the bird with it and put underneath the skin.  Check the label but it usually ends up being about 30 minutes for every pound at 350.
  • It should get to a temperature of 160 to be done.

Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes

  • Cook 4 yukon gold potatoes in the crock-pot under high for 6 hours (which saves time) and then mash with skins on.
  • Add 1/4 cup of cream/milk and 1/2 stick of butter and mix until most of the clumps are gone.
  • You can make it with as many potatoes as you like or just one if you want.
  • Season with salt and pepper, to taste

or you could just cook them regular on the stove.

  • Cornbread Stuffing with Maple Sausage and Apricots
  • Cook onion, celery, maple sausage until onions soft, sausage cooked.
  • Add cornbread stuffing cubes and 2-4 cups of chicken broth.
  • Add diced dried apricots and then put in oven at 350 for 45 minutes.Gravy
  • Take pan drippings and skim off excessive oil.  Then mix together a little water and flour until smooth.  My Mom even uses the blender for hers but I prefer minimal dishes.  Then you add the flour-water to the drippings and stir until the mixture thickens up.  Then add salt to taste.Cranberry Relish

    Thanksgiving for 1 (Guest Post by SilingLDS Girl} via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

  • In food processor pulsing blade finely ground 1 bag of fresh cranberries, 2 tbsp agave nectar or sugar, a whole orange cut into segments and a cup of nuts (I’ve made it with almonds, walnuts and pecans all good). Add more sweetener to taste.

 Green Beans with Bacon Vinaigrette

Thanksgiving for 1 (Guest Post by SilingLDS Girl} via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

  • Green beans with bacon vinaigrette. Cook bacon into bite sized pieces.  Remove most of the bacon fat from the pan leaving a couple of tablespoons inside.
  • Cook beans in boiling water (I’ve actually found the microwave does this quite well) add red onion, 1 tbsp of sugar to the bacon fat and then ¼ cup balsamic vinegar (you could use any vinegar you like.  I used an apricot balsamic from Sutter Buttes Olive Oil that I got in one of my subscription boxes.  It was great!  Combine beans with sauce and stir.  Top with crunchy bacon.  Yum!No bake pumpkin cheesecakes (recipe adapted by I Wash You Dry)

    Thanksgiving for 1 (Guest Post by SilingLDS Girl} via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

  • 1 box gingersnap cookies ground to fine crumbs
  • 3 tbsp butter melted
  • 4 tbsp sugar or other sweetener

For the Filling:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream (I accidentally bought light cream cheese but it worked fine)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 ½ c marshmallows
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar (I added more because I like things on the sweeter side especially for dessert)
  • 1 ½ ts pumpkin pie spice1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream whipped.

For the Crust:

  • Mix together all ingredients press into bottom of molds or spring-form pan.  You can then bake it for 5 minutes to create a more solid crust but I don’t think that is even necessary.
  • For filling mix together cream cheese, sour cream, pumpkin, and sugar.   Heat up marshmallows and butter until cooked and bubbling.  Add to rest of wet filling mix.  Beat vigorously.  Add to molds.  Set overnight.  Top with whipped cream.

So those are the recipes I used.  Have fun cooking for one.  It will be a great journey for you!  Good luck and let me know how things go and what strategies work for you. 

Thanksgiving for 1

Ingredients

Turkey Breast
    • 1 Turkey breast with skin
    • Fresh herbs (variety)
Cornbread Stuffing
    • 2, 6oz bags Dried cornbread stuffing cubes
    • 1 cup onion, chopped
    • 1 celery, chopped
    • 1-2 links of maple sausage
    • 1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
    • 2-3 cups Chicken broth
Gravy
    • 2 Tb flour
    • Water
    • Salt, to taste
Green Beans with Bacon Vinaigrette
    • 1 cup Green beans
    • 1 slice of bacon (more if you want extra for salads)
    • 1 Red onion, chopped
    • 1Tb sugar
    • 1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
Cranberry Relish
    • 1 bag fresh cranberries
    • 2 Tb agave nectar or sugar
    • 1 orange, cut into segments
    • 1 cup nuts (almonds, walnuts or pecans)
Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes
    • 4 Yukon potatoes
    • 1/4 cup milk or cream
    • 1/2 stick of butter
    • Salt and pepper, to taste
No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake via I Wash You Dry
Crust
    • 1 box gingersnap cookies ground to fine crumbs
    • 3 tbsp butter melted
    • 4 tbsp sugar or other sweetener
Filling
  • For the filling:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream (I accidently bought light cream cheese but it worked fine)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 ½ c marshmallows
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar (I added more because I like things on the sweeter side especially for dessert)
  • 1 ½ ts pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream whipped.

Instructions

Turkey Breast
    1. Thaw bird completely before cooking.
    2. Make a paste with fresh herbs and butter then rub the bird with it and put underneath the skin. Check the label but it usually ends up being about 30 minutes for every pound at 350
    3. It should get to a temperature of 160 to be done.
Cornbread stuffing
    1. Cook onion, celery and maple sausage until onions soft, sausage cooked.
    2. Add cornbread stuffing cubes and 2-4 cups of chicken broth.
    3. Add diced dried apricots and then put in oven at 350 for 45 minutes.
Gravy
    1. Take pan drippings and skim off excessive oil.
    2. Then mix together a little water and flour until smooth in a separate bowl. My Mom even uses the blender for hers but I prefer minimal dishes. Then you add the flour-water to the drippings and stir until the mixture thickens up. Then add salt to taste.
Green beans with bacon vinaigrette
    1. Cook bacon into bite sized pieces.
    2. Remove most of the bacon fat from the pan leaving a couple of tablespoons inside.
    3. Cook beans in boiling water (I’ve actually found the microwave does this quite well).
    4. Add red onion, 1 tbsp of sugar to the bacon fat and then ¼ cup balsamic vinegar (you could use any vinegar you like.
    5. Combine beans with sauce and stir.
    6. Top with crunchy bacon.
Cranberry Relish
    1. In a food processor, add the cranberries, agave, sugar, nuts and orange.
    2. Pulse until finely ground.
    3. Add more sweetener to taste.
Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes
    1. Cook potatoes in the crock-pot under high for 6 hours (which saves time) and then mash with skins on.
    2. Add 1/4 cup of cream/milk and 1/2 stick of butter and mix until most of the clumps are gone.
    3. You can make it with as many potatoes as you like or just one if you want.
    4. Season with salt and pepper, to taste
No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake via I Wash You Dry
  1. For crust- mix together all ingredients press into bottom of molds or spring-form pan. You can then bake it for 5 minutes to create a more solid crust but I don’t think that is even necessary.
  2. For filling mix together cream cheese, sour cream, pumpkin, and sugar.
  3. Heat up marshmallows and butter until cooked and bubbling.
  4. Add to rest of wet filling mix. Beat vigorously. Add to molds. Set overnight.
  5. Top with whipped cream.

All of the food made can be up-sized or downsized. If you would like less turkey buy a smaller breast or only 2 potatoes instead of 4. Use half the cranberries and make less relish.

Thanksgiving for 1 (Guest Post by SilingLDS Girl} via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

All Wrung Out

Globe-being-wrung-outI wanted to use this graphic because I felt like it really describes my feelings today.  I feel like my world has been twisted and turned and wrung out.  I’m exhausted!

That said, I feel hopeful and grateful.  Grateful to have this forum to hear the stories of so many wonderful people.  In just over a day I have heard from nearly a hundred people on facebook, twitter and the blog and had nearly 700 views of the post.  So many felt the same frustrations in transitioning into your 30s and a family ward that I had felt.  So many had found ways to make it work and others are still struggling.  I am honored to put into words what people are feeling and hopefully give a little bit of validation.

Please let’s keep up the discussion.  Please keep me posted on your progress and through our communications with one another we can help spread God’s message which is more important than anything else.

I was thinking about the story of the Good Samaritan today.  Isn’t it interesting that the man is a lonely traveler.  One can only imagine that if there was a family member or friend with him he would have found the love and service he depended on strangers to give.  No, he was a single man attacked, in need.

How many of us can relate to that journey? Indeed, how often have we given up of being rescued when the Samaritan comes to help us.  Even in something as simple as a tweet I have been blessed by the generosity of strangers in my life, sometimes in a way that friends and family could never be.

The other lesson I’ve learned from the past 2 days has been a reminder of my own strength.  My mentor at BYU said that I ‘have a sense of empathy for the unjustly treated in the world’.  Many people have used the word ‘brave’ and ‘courage’ when describing my simple post.  I wouldn’t go that far but it is a humbling reminder that I am a powerful person and I can bring about much good if I follow my heart and the Lord.

Today I was told by fabulous home teachers that the Lord loved me and He wants me to use my gifts to bless others.  My home teacher gave me a challenge to find out how I am to contribute.  It is something I have often wondered, sometimes with a tear or two because the contribution of a single girl seems so small but after yesterday I am not feeling that as much. Even if I could be that Good Samaritan for one person, as many have been so for me, it would all be worth it.

Listen to what some had to say:

“Amen. I’m in the EXACT same boat.”

“i too have fallen through a wards cracks. You, my friend are far stronger than I.”

“I love this… being in college as an Older single and not allowed to even take an insititue class… I just can’t do it. . It means a lot that you worte this”

“My bishop, was a sweet kind man who was clueless about what I was going through and when he asked me if I thought we had a friendly ward, I told him no and I told him why and he was shocked! He’s grown and so have I. I feel your struggle”

That’s just a sampling.  There are people out there that need to be rescued. (some of course are doing fine and quite happy being single and independent so that’s great) but I’m more determined than ever to seek out the beaten soul and do all I can to show love and serve even if it is just through this blog.

I’ve always loved the song Each Life that Touches Ours for Good.  It makes me think of my Grandpa who I loved more than anyone else.  I miss him.  I hope I can be as good a friend as he was to me.

What greater gift dost thou bestow,

What greater goodness can we know

Than Christlike friends, whose gentle ways

Strengthen our faith, enrich our days.
I’ve still got a long way to go but I’m on to something and excited for the future for the first time in years.
good samaritan

Midsingles: A Letter

Dear Brethren,

I am writing this letter via my blog in the hopes that somehow you might see it. You probably won’t but I am going to pretend that you can and say what I want to say.

For the first time in my life today I didn’t go to church.  It was the wrong decision but I just couldn’t take it.  Let me fill you in on my life story. I’m 32 single adult, RM, BYU grad member.  I attended YSA wards for 15 years of my life.  While these had there challenges, I was always able to make it work.  I benefited from a large amount of money and resources spent to ensure I was taken care of and spiritually nourished.

With all its faults, it was the only way I have worshiped in my adult life. The only thing I knew.  My last singles ward was particularly great.  I had a bishop who really loved me and we had a mentoring relationship.  He cared about my life, followed my swims, and met with me on a regular basis. As someone who does not have much gospel family support, aside from parents, this meant a lot to me.

In that ward we had a daily scripture reading, service and prayer challenge which we reported on regularly.  We had lessons that I could relate to each week and activities that helped me to feel included and make friends.  While the emphasis on dating sometimes drove me crazy, at least I felt important and taken care of.

And then I turned 31…

Like a guillotine I was told I had one month to transition to either a midsingles or family ward.  It didn’t help that the same week I was transitioning I had a blow in my personal life I had to absorb mostly alone.  Nevertheless, I tried to be obedient and attend the family ward.

I’ll never forget walking in to my first family ward that had 3 other single adults. I sat on a row in the back but I tried and bore my testimony, introduced myself.  (I can’t even imagine if you were shy how you’d get through it).

Then I met with the bishop and told him I did not want to be in primary.  Not because I don’t like kids but because I knew it would make it near impossible for me to make friends and feel a part of the ward. Lo and behold I got called into primary and I did my best to make it work.  I was also called as activity day director, a calling I loved.

I was pretty vocal and active in that ward and I actually was able to make a friend or two (my co-teacher was great and we became friends).  Still, I felt spiritually stymied and cut off from the ward experience I was used to.  I attended some ysa activities and that was fine but its hard when you are cut off from the Sunday social environment to feel a part of things.  I went to midsingles activities but the challenge there is the numbers are so massive that you can’t get to know anyone because the next month there is an entirely new group at the activities.

So I lost activities, spiritual nourishment, friends and a sense of being part of a ward family (It really feels like sometimes they are prepared to invest so much in people and then boom its over).  I met with the bishop before moving out and told him ‘I haven’t been asked to speak.  Haven’t given a prayer or anything’ .  He said ‘It looks like you fell through the cracks’.

Not exactly comforting…

So a new ward came with a new house.  At first I was called into the Relief Society presidency which helped a lot to give me something to do, feel needed.   However, it really hurt when I was seeking help with my move and told ‘we don’t do moves’.  It kind of broke my heart. I was left to figure it out on my own, as a single woman with no immediate family to help.

But I plowed forward.  I worked hard.  Tried to contribute, gave a talk in church, taught several lessons, but still missed the inclusive experience of my singles ward.  This new ward has more singles but most are divorced with kids which is a different set of circumstances.  We have only had Relief Society activities so its hard to get to know families, to even know who is part of what family. We also don’t have ward directories any more so if I wasn’t in RS Presidency I’d have nobody to call for help or to get acquainted.

They have a monthly activity for FHE for singles that I appreciate, even though I’m the only one from my ward that attends.   The problem is that the group seems different each time and the interactions are so seldom that even learning people’s names is difficult.  So I am left alone.   The same problem is true for midsingles activities in general.  The midsingles ward is about 30 minutes from my house (an hour driving is a lot if you don’t have to) and it is massive, 750+ members.

As far as spiritual nourishment goes I tried to tag onto the singles ward as long as I could.  For example, they did a scripture challenge on the atonement before Christmas that I found very rewarding.  Those kinds of things never happen in family wards.

There are also other issues I won’t get into but suffice it to say any spiritual nourishment I was getting was not from my Sunday meetings.  These are attended only out of obedience and a chance to renew covenants.   One Sunday we had talks on girls camp, a lesson in Sunday School about the big bang theory and a RS lesson about ‘keeping the love alive in your marriage’ where we learned the steps for writing love notes, cards passed around and all…

In May I was feeling down and wanted to talk with the bishop.  The waiting list was over a month out.  I said ‘forget it’ and moved on, dealt with my problems by myself and with this blog (thank you!).  The whole time I felt very sad and truly grieved for the life I was allowed to live for so long that was ripped out from under me through no choice of my own.

Then this week the ties in my YSA were weakened all the more.  At this point I only know 3 people there and the bishopric.  I felt very depressed about it.  My bishop called yesterday and I told him as much.  His response was ‘ok’ and hung up.  I am sure he has way too much on his plate but it hurt.

I just couldn’t do it today.  I couldn’t pretend today. Next week I will be back because I know it is true and that’s more important than anything else but you brethren should know that there is a reason inactivity among midsingles is 80% or more.  It is so hard to make that change.

In other parts of the country they are implementing a system of magnet wards for midsingles.  This is a great idea. Instead of the 2 choices I have of midsingles ward or family, you have a ward in each stake that the midsingles are assigned to attend.  You could even have 2 for stakes with more midsinges.  This gives the advantages of friendship and fellowship of a ysa with the grownup feel of a family ward.  Please! Bring this to Utah!

These singles are great people.  They are strong.  Strong enough to forge ahead with all of this.  They know they are not living the ideal Mormon life.  They can’t work on the celestial concept of marriage.  They don’t have anyone to nudge them forward or to correct them when they are getting off the path.  It is all on them.  This should be more of a reason to fellowship and provide solutions that help them.

I honestly think the transition from singles to family wards (even if through marriage) needs to be treated like welcoming in a new convert.  It’s that different and that unsettling.  Like President Hinckley says, any convert needs “a friend, a calling and nourishment of the good word of God”.   That’s what is needed and I’m convinced if it was tackled from that perspective attrition rate wouldn’t be nearly so high.

The fact is when you are a midsingle you are living in a world that isn’t designed for you, even outside the church.  It is assumed by your 30s that you have at least one marriage under your belt and that most people have kids or are starting to have kids because most people are doing just that. And it only gets worse, I’m told, the older you get.

But where does that leave the group left behind, outside the norm?

Well, on this Sunday she stayed home and cried but she’ll be back and will try again.

Love,

Rachel

midsingles

News and October Awesomeness

SLEEP

First I will start out this post by letting you all know that I have recovered from my night of no sleep on Sunday.  I slept for 10 hours last night and hopefully broke the 2 am trend I’ve been allowing myself to get into.  Thank you for all your thoughts and concern my way.  Its a scary experience getting no sleep.  Your mind starts to spin and you feel almost like the insane people you see in the movies- unglued.  It’s very weird.

Some good advice from Elder Holland.  Photo is from my mission
Some good, if challenging, advice for the insomniac from Elder Holland. Photo is from my mission

EXCITING NEWS

So I have some exciting news for all of you faithful readers.  I am going to get the chance to guest blog for my friend Samantha Ferraro on her food blog http://littleferrarokitchen.com/  I am going to be doing a more professional version of my post from last year Thanksgiving for One and I’m really excited!  I have gotten a new camera (something I’ve wanted to do for some time) and am going to work with my Dad to take some great food photos and give tips for cooking for 1.  I figure if I can show people how to cook thanksgiving for 1 they can extrapolate the skills and cook any meal for 1.

NANOWRIMO

On that note, are there any of you that might be interested in guest posting on  my blog in November?  I am going to be doing nanowrimo and will be be posting but probably not as frequently as I have been doing in the last few months (I’ve been on a role lately!).

Speaking of Nanowrio I am really excited for my next book.  I’ll give you the basic summary.  It is a Christmas chick lit book about 2 women, life long, friends- one a stay at home army Mom and the other a single career woman- who love but envy each other’s lives.  One day they wish to Santa that they could live the other person’s life and through his magic he makes them switch places, freaky friday style.  Hilarity ensues.  Think Hallmark movies with maybe a touch more edge.  I’m going to have Santa as the narrator and he is a bit sarcastic and funny. What do you think?  Would you read that?

RANTING AND RAVING

So, I was kind of sad today.  I found out that they are only going to have current members on my old singles ward facebook page so I won’t find out about activities any more.  My last tenuous tie cut…I only have one friend there anyway.  Most of my other friends from the ward are on missions or going on missions (which is awesome!).  Anyway, its silly thing because I hardly went to any activities but I guess it just said to me ‘that part of your life is over. Move on’.  That made me cry.

I know life isn’t fair but it’s not fair.  I shouldn’t be allowed to live my faith one way for 14 years and then bam its all pulled out from under me in a week. Do you know how shocking that is?  I’ve always been more comfortable in the majority than minority and in the family ward I’m a definite minority.

I feel like I’ve tried hard but I haven’t made any friends in the family ward.  Everyone is too busy and you don’t get a chance to meet anyone because there aren’t any activities, or hardly any.  I miss FHE.  I miss firesides and activities. I need to go to institute in Lehi for the midsingles but I haven’t had great luck with the midsingles functions. It’s so different every time you go that you can’t really get to know anyone.

Yes, I’m complaining but this is my blog and I can do that from time to time.  It just made me sad that’s all. I’ll get over it.

A RING AND OTHER SHOPPING

On happy news I have all of my Christmas shopping done except for my roommate!  Crazy right.  I got some cute stuff.  I kept stumbling on stuff I think they will really love and I didn’t spend a ton of money.

Also, I got a ring from my box of happies last month that I liked but the band was cheap so I had the local jeweler make me a new band.  I just love it so much!

Designed by me. I love that! Something totally unique
Designed by me. I love that! Something totally unique

Also, if you haven’t checked out the Poler website do.  They have outerwear, Nike shoes and tons of cool hats for winter.  Would be great for Christmas gifts.  Check out yours truly:

You could say I wear many hats for Poler
You could say I wear many hats for Poler

I got a new sign from the great etsy shop The Sign Post.  Love them both.  They were a great company to work with because I had originally spelled TS Eliot’s name with two Ts and they caught it and corrected it.  I think they are pretty great.

signs

Another great find is called The Protein Bakery.  I saw them on the food network and they are treats made with protein that I actually like!  They also contain mostly wheat free flours (not technically gluten free because the facilities process wheat but wheat free flours).  I was so impressed and I normally hate that kind of thing.  My gag reflex is super strong at protein additives but these are yummy

protein factory

I also got to try these cookies from Cheryls bakery and they were delicious.  They have a service on their website where you can send a cookie-gram.   I think that is super cute and seriously one of the best baked goods I’ve tried.

460x382_CherylsCookieCardFlash_DelilahBYDayOCTOBER BOXES

I have also had a great time trying out more boxes in the last month.  Check out some of my youtube videos for favorites: