Saturday, November 17, 2012

The post where I meet Josh and Lolly Weed.

Ok, so in full disclosure, this is a very long post. So if you just want the cliff-notes version it goes like this:

"So I went to this SSA conference and met Josh and Lolly Weed. They are famous. It was awesome. 
I hugged them way too many times for being someone they've never met and don't know. 
Apparently I have no concept of people's personal bubbles. 
Still, they were the nicest people ever and we had a moment. 
The End." 
~~~

Ok, so here is the actual post in its entirety. I realized after writing it all out how ridiculously long it was, so to break things up I made it into three sections. I also randomly included some unicorn pictures. Enjoy.

PART ONE: An explanation of my possibly creepy obsession with Josh Weed. 

So. Josh Weed.
Like about a billion other people, I found out about Josh Weed last June when his coming out post went viral all over the internet. I have no idea how many of my friends posted it, or who exactly I saw it from, but I read the whole post twice in one sitting and immediately re-posted it. I told my husband about it when I got home. I discussed it with friends and siblings. I subscribed to his blog, and have been following it and frequently commenting on it since. I really don't even know how to talk about how much this blog influenced my life. Josh and Lolly's insane courage, their stalwart commitment to each other AND to the gospel was the best example of true love and faith I'd ever known of. Their determination to share their "taboo" story with the world despite the personal consequences that might ensue from people on BOTH ends of the spectrum was overwhelming in its inspiration. I have never felt more love for a pair of total strangers. These people were AMAZING.

I stole this picture from the internet.
But I'm pretty sure it's ok since I met Josh today and we are friends now. 

But the biggest inspiration factor, in my opinion, was that Josh and Lolly had found a way to be both true to themselves AND be in the church. Josh was Mormon. Josh was also gay. It was ok.
It was the first real genuine example of someone in the church coming out and saying, "This is who I am, and I am totally okay with that. This is my life. This is real." Someone straight up (haha...straight) saying that they didn't feel ashamed. That they KNEW God loved them. That they felt they had a place and were even included in a religion that is so often mistaken for being "anti-gay". A person and a couple who brought some clarity and reconciliation to the idea that you can be gay AND a Mormon.

***Quick clarification, Josh does NOT endorse the idea of "reparative therapy" nor does he ever suggest that living a heterosexual lifestyle is a "cure" for gayness or that it can work for everyone. Just thought I'd quickly clarify that.***

For several years now I'd been struggling with my own frustrations and misunderstandings with the churches take on homosexuality. I have several close friends and family members who are gay, and through open conversations with them I was of the firm belief/knowledge that being gay is NOT a "choice". Yet so many devoted church members were just as oppositely opinionated. I couldn't understand how a church that proclaims to be for everyone could be so excluding. It'd been a huge faith-buster.

Josh's initial post and many that followed were the first real feelings of hope I'd felt concerning The Church of Jesus Christ in well over a year. It cut through threads of cynical thinking and made me realize that if people like Josh and Lolly Weed are part of the church it can't be as mean and exclusive as I was making it out to be.  Maybe, somehow, with the right mind-set of acceptance and understanding, the church really can include everyone. I became a little bit of a blog stalker, clinging to every experience the Weed family began to have now that they were internet famous. :) I felt like their journey was testing the water for everyone else that wanted to open the discussion on this subject. I prayed so hard for their family!

So, the point is, their post kinda changed my life.

UNICORN!!
Sooo....when I found out that they were both coming to PROVO UTAH to speak at the new Convention Center that is quite literally FIVE BLOCKS from my house, I was giddy with excitement over the idea of meeting them. :)

PART TWO: I go to a conference about Same Sex Attraction...by myself. 

Confession #1: Meeting them was the sole purpose of me going to this Conference. *This is the part where I openly admit to being a total creeper.
Confession #2: The conference was excellent and even if I hadn't met them I would have been glad I was in attendance.
Confession #3: I was really cold the whole time so I was wearing gloves which hid my wedding ring.
Confession #4: I was not upset that both a girl and a guy flirted with me.
Confession #5: The girl was much cuter.

The Conference was called, "Reconciling Faith and Feelings" and brought together a panel of Mormon Therapists that widely varied in their opinions about Same Sex Attraction.
The atmosphere at the beginning was a bit tense, as it was clear which therapists believed in homosexuality being a choice that could be changed, and which believed it was not. There were many varied life experiences represented as well. A few therapists, like Josh, were gay or had "struggled with SSA". (It's my blog, I can put them in quotations if I want to!) Fortunately no one was mean or cruel in their comments, and it wasn't long before there was this magical shift onto common ground. Suddenly everyone realized they all had the same goal in mind: To let Latter Day Saints know that there is a place for them in the church no matter who/what they identify as. Getting to that place can mean different things for different people, but they all agreed it is possible.

UNICORN!
Ok, for the sake of getting to the point of this post (which is, of course, how I met Josh and Lolly in real life) I will try and paraphrase the rest of the conference with the notes I took, which are mostly just my favorite quotes. 
Again, although I was primarily there to meet the Weeds, I was extremely impressed by the dialogue that ensued when a bunch of open-minded LDS people were able to put aside preconceived notions and come together in a mostly unbiased discussion about how to show more love an acceptance to members of the church who are gay. This is such an important conversation to be having. I am happy to be sharing it now with you. 

"The common thread: We each proclaim that people have choices. 
One of those choices is to live the gospel of Jesus Christ and do so joyfully." 

"Experiencing Same Sex Attraction is NOT a worthiness issue."

What does "change" mean to you?

"'Change' is individual, based on what the individual wants and whether or not they accept a higher power." ~This is not to mean that "change" for everyone means a change in sexual orientation. Indeed most of the therapists disagreed strongly that that is even possible. Change can mean a change of heart. A change in your spiritual connection with Heavenly Father. A change from what you want for yourself to what He may have in mind for you in your life. The word 'change' is not limited to one path.

"Change can be unpacked in so many ways. Either you are in the drivers seat or your emotions are."

"What does it mean to be true to yourself? What are your values? ...On a philosophical note, you have to live your values in order to be true to yourself." ~This was a sentence used to explain how many gay Mormon men have found peace in living a 'heterosexual' lifestyle with a female wife.

"Therapy is about change. People go to therapy because they want to change something about their life. 100% change of sexual orientation, in my experience, is not possible. But when you can accept that, then you can begin to make the changes that REALLY matter; the changes that lead you to real joy."

"'Can I change?' Is really a question of, 'Can I live a meaningful life and be happy?'"

How do you go about "coming out" to someone? Especially someone who you may want to marry?

"If you don't feel comfortable telling someone, they are probably not that good of a friend/person/relationship."

"Telling someone is not a one-liner." ~It should be a long, open, honest discussion that is continuous. That is the only way to make a successful Mixed Orientation marriage or relationship.

"Share it with people who will love you."

"It is empowering that person to accept you for all that you are."

What is your response to people who call you [disgusting things]. (I don't feel comfortable posting the words which were actually used in this audience question.)

"Forgive good people who say really stupid things." :)

"Part of gospel living is to learn forgiveness, patience and charity."

"Healthy people don't attack. It is not the church that attacks, it is uninformed, unhealthy people."

It was an amazingly open discussion. After the initial panel and a short intermission, spouses and others joined the discussion on stage for an open forum featuring audience questions. Lolly was definitely the star of the day with her candid and faith-filled responses. She is one impressive wife. :)

Rainbow unicorn to the rescue!
My favorite highlights of the conference, besides the quotes I shared, were 1. Josh and Lolly on stage together. They are just the most friggin' adorable couple ever! They were always holding hands, or Josh had his arm around her...their genuine love and concern for each other surely made the whole room jealous! haha. 
2. The awesome one-liners from Ty Mansfeld, *drinks some water* "I feel like a new man!" *Lowers voice* "CHANGE!" 
3. The guy who had just rejoined the church and this was his first time going public. 
4. The wives who didn't leave or give up on their husbands when they found out. 
5. The lone lesbian on the panel who represented for the ladies!
and 6. The standing ovation the audience gave them at the end, and seeing Lolly wipe away tears when the audience clapped for them. So sweet! 

You guys totally get why I was excited to meet this couple right?

PART THREE: Where in REAL LIFE I meet Josh and Lolly Weed.

Ok, so despite how I am coming off in this entire post, I am NOT one of those "fan" people who wants to go talk to guest speakers at the end, or go to a concert and stalk the band after, or...wait at the stage door after a Broadway play...Ok. Fine. I did that twice. But I lived in New York for a year and a half and saw dozens of shows, so that should prove I'm not one of "those" people.
But I was determined to actually meet Josh and Lolly. You know, because that was the whole point of me going to this. And I brought my camera. Because I wanted a picture. Because I'm creepy. And also because then I could prove I met them, because they are famous.
When the conference finally wrapped up I tried to politely excuse myself from the guy who was trying to figure out if I was gay or not, and made my way up to the side of the stage where a little pack had formed around Josh and Lolly. Suddenly I realized what a bad idea it had been to wear my coat and gloves the whole time because my hands were suddenly super sweaty.

*Yes, I realize how much of a creepy stalker I sound like right now. Sorry about that. Here is another unicorn so you can stop thinking about how weird I am.

See? I'm a totally normal person who posts pictures like this.
Stop judging.
K, so I made my way up to their little crowd and tried to not look as awkward as I felt, which was super awkward, because this was really out of my comfort zone. I REALLY wanted to meet them and tell them how awesome I think they are. So I kept standing there until the guy talking to Josh walked away and then I said the first thing that popped into my head, which sadly was, "Can I meet you?" 
haha. I am awesome at having normal conversations with people. 

Good news for me, Josh and Lolly Weed are just as awesome in person as they seem on their blog. 
And then the most amazing thing that has ever happened maybe EVER, happened. 

Josh Weed knew who I was. 

..........................................

Just let it sink in. This is the best part.

..........................................

We shook hands and he said, "What's your name?" and I said, "Rebekah" and then he kinda looked at me funny and said, "Wait, what's your last name?" and when I said Lindsley he was like, "I know you! I know exactly who you are!" He then proceeded to tell me that several months ago, during the beginning of all the madness after the 'coming out' post that I had made a comment on his blog that had so impressed and touched him that he read it to Lolly, and it had helped them to know that by sharing their story they were doing the right thing and that they should continue right on doing it.

I had helped him.

Then the people talking to Lolly walked away, and JOSH WEED introduced ME to his gorgeous wife Lolly, and when she realized who I was she actually teared up trying to tell me how much my little comment had meant to them. And then I started crying, and we hugged and...
It was an amazing and incredible moment.

~~~"THE CIIIIIIIRRRRRCLE OF LIIIIIFE!!!"~~~

So, we totally had this awesome spiritual moment, and I'm pretty sure I hugged them both about 4 times, and because it was so open and REAL, I went ahead and told them how they'd changed my life, as cheesy as that sounded, and I'm pretty sure I hugged them again. Like 9 times.

Then, because it was all just happening, I asked if I could get a picture with them, and then THIS HAPPENED.

The example of these two amazing people totally strengthened my testimony.
True Story. So grateful!
I kept saying that I was sorry for being such a creeper. I KNOW they do these conferences all the time, and I'm sure I'm not the first blog-stalker they've had come say Hi to them, but I was just so out of my comfort zone I couldn't stop babbling about being a creeper, but then I thought it would be super funny to actually do a creeperesque (I just invented that word to describe myself in this situation) photo. So I asked them if we could stage one, and they are AWESOME, so then this happened: 

This would be a lot funnier if I actually looked REALLY creepy. Next time guys, next time. >:) 
So after photos happened I think I hugged them like 6 more times, and then I was like, "Ok bye!" and they were awesome and told me to keep in touch. Because we're friends now.

As I walked out of the Conference Center I realized that my face actually hurt from grinning and that I was shaking like crazy from nerves. Haha. I am SO glad that I woke up at 7:30 in the morning on a Saturday to come to this conference! I am SO glad that I faced my fear of being awkward and got to meet these two amazingly beautiful people. I am so grateful that people like Josh and Lolly Weed exist to make the world a better place one blog post at a time. Thanks Weeds. :)

~Also, a special thanks to my amazingly supportive husband, Steven, who wanted to sleep in, but was so excited for me when I got home. He let me talk about it all day, and then proof-read this post to make sure everything came out right. He is the best! I love you honey. :) ~

More Missy

I'm trying to refrain from posting so many cat pictures on Facebook, because people are starting to joke about my cat obsession and ... it's totally true. So this might just become a cat blog so I have somewhere to fulfill my obsession of posting pictures of my cat. Don't judge.

Ok, so I totally forgot that these pictures even existed until JUST NOW when I put my camera in to upload some different pictures and up they popped. And they are hilarious. So if you follow my blog you are a lucky witness of these secret surprise cat photos.

This happened the day were were planning to take down the Halloween decorations. (Which may or may not have been a week or two into November. haha. woops!) We'd decorated the kitchen table with a black plastic tablecloth covered with a Netting-type Halloween cloth. I was eating my lunch when suddenly out of a little hole next to my knee popped THIS:


Missy had found a little hole. 


And she was determined to get out of it. 


So she started doing all she could to make it bigger.


Gettin' closer!


The view through the hole...


Might be my favorite cat picture EVER. "HELLOOO!"


"MUST SQUEEZE THROUGH!!!"


Eventually she had made it big enough that I made her stop and folded up the cloth. 
haha. 
Maybe she secretly just wanted us to finally clean up the kitchen? ;)

Nom Nom Nom! Missy soup!

So....this happened.








No cats were harmed in the making of this blog post. 

Halloween 2012

We. Love. Halloween.

Steven and I look forward to Halloween more than probably any other Holiday. We are Halloween fanatics!
We started decorating right after we took down his birthday decorations, beginning a month-long process of giving the apartment a Halloween make-over. I was Halloween crazy! I spent hours combing over Halloween blogs and boards on Pinterest. I went to the Halloween City store so often that they knew me when I walked in and finally exclaimed towards the end of the month, "What else could you possibly NEED?!??"



We had broomsticks, we had witch hats, we had spiderwebs, we had creepy cloth, we bought a fog machine, we had candles galore and skeletons and ghouls hanging all over the house.

I took a couple hours one night and stuffed a pair of my clothes with newspaper to make a life-sized body/person. We propped it up in a chair in the office and bought a creepy doll face mask for the head. I had used a hoodie for the top part, and we used a balloon in the hood to give the head a life-like look. I didn't have to use anything for hands because I could just use the sleeves in the pockets. It looked super creepy! :D (I realize now that we didn't take any pictures of this creation, which is a huge pity.)

Here is the mask we used. Imagine this peeking at you from inside a hood. 
I perused the local thrift store and found a great lantern and several candle holder and bottles to spray paint as decorations. Also I bought several yards of old lace and other fabric to use for my costume for about 2 dollars.

Steven had decided that he wanted to be an authentic medieval-era person for Halloween so he could show off his new sword, mentioned here. He also commissioned his mom to help him make him an authentic head-cape thing. (This is why Steven should write posts. I don't know what anything is called. haha.)

I wanted to be something traditionally "Halloweenish". I had been picturing a skeleton costume complete with some sort of dramatic body painting, but when I started looking for skeleton body suits I discovered that the only female skeleton suits in existence gave you one of two options: Slutty skeleton (What does that even mean?) or Skeletoon (Cartoon bones with no real proportions).  So I began to modify my costume choice. It morphed from skeleton to ghost, from ghost to zombie, from zombie to some-sort-of-dead-person-ghoul, which is what I ultimately ended up being.

Someone please explain to me how this even  remotely
applies as a skeleton costume.
That's right, it doesn't. 
The only definitive costume choice I ended up having was that I wanted to be Victorian Era. However, any buy-able costumes from a Victorian period were easily hundreds of dollars. So...I commissioned my AMAZINGLY crafty friend Alana to help me make a Halloween costume out of an old choir dress. FREEEEEE!!! :D Thanks Singers!

We had decided early on that we wanted to host our first ever Halloween party, and I was obsessively determined to make it the best Halloween party OF. ALL. TIME.



To make a longer story much shorter, although my perfectionist vision for the party wasn't totally realized, most of the things that were supposed to happen worked out, and our guests showed up (THANK YOU) and had a great time. :)

As guests arrived they were greeted by 4 grinning jack-o-lanterns, and then as they descended down into our apartment (we're in a garden-level view) they were swiped in the face with hanging cobwebs and surrounded by swirling fog. The treat table had bug-filled jello, a yellow/green witches brew, pumpkin cheeseballs with assorted crackers, deviled egg "eye-balls", banana bread, brownies with cream-cheese frosting and about 100 home-made mini-peanut butter cups! My specialty. ;)

As guests were arriving the first activity was a Halloween Ispy. Hidden around the apartment were all kinds of spooky objects for them to find. Rats, mice, witches brooms and hats, a crystal ball....anything we could think of to hide. :)

After everyone arrived and had gotten something to eat we began the main games which kicked off with Halloween Mad-Libs, written by Steven. Then we did "20 Questions" as well as had apothocary jars filled with candy for people to guess on. We'd also set up the Halloween costume contest and movie-vote by this time. We had three prizes: Scariest Costume, Funniest Costume, and Best Overall complete with little trophies for each.



After that it was all light off for a spooky game of "Murder" also known as "Mafia" or "The Winker". We played a couple variations of that. It was very suspenseful, especially when we were sitting on the floor surrounded with fog.

After that many guests had to take off, but those that remained joined us in watching "Corpse Bride".


My biggest regret is that we didn't get enough pictures. We hardly got pictures of anything. But here you go, here are the ones we DID take. Enjoy. :)

My sister Elizabeth dressed as Tinkerbell!

Our High School friends Nate and Melodie dressed as Ninjas!
The sticky-notes are from playing 20 Questions.

Our siblings Ryan and Michelle made a beautiful Batman and Belle!

Jeff won the Overall Best Costume for his convincing portrayal of Captain America,
and Eric won Funniest for his representation of Sagat! 

This is my AMAZING friend Alana who made mine (AND ELIZABETH'S) Halloween costumes.
She came as a pregnant version of me and Jon came as Steven. HAHA! 
Elizabeth's two best friends were Belle and Cruella. Disney party!!
The next morning I took a few pictures of the apartment since I'd forgotten the night before. It looked MUCH cooler when it was all fog-filled and candle-lit, but use your imagination. :)




The second night of Halloween weekend Steven and I had been invited to THREE parties AND a wedding reception. We ended up getting ready and going to one party and then just pooping out of all the rest. haha. Woops. 

Here are the pics we took that second night before we went out: 

Here's Missy-cat dressed in one of 3 Halloween costumes we bought her. haha.

Here is the sexiest man alive, aka Steven...
And I repeat myself, SEXIEST MAN ALIVE. 


Here is my PHENOMENAL Halloween costume
 made from an old choir dress, some $2.00 DI fabric and grey spray paint.
My favorite part: The Bustle!!
Here is the back of my hair-do, complete with spiders
which fell out throughout the evening
and scared people. :D 


Steven wearing the hood part!

I did my own make-up and hair, of course!

Halloween Lovers. In both senses of the word. ;) 

Just one more shot of this great costume!!


HAPPY HALLOWEEN FROM THE LINDSLEY FAMILY!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

General Conference

***K, so I definitely started composing this back in October and never figured out how to talk about it in the right way. I'm now deciding to just post it as is and let it be so at least it gets posted.***

In case you didn't know, I'm Mormon.
To find out more about my church, check out Mormon.org.

The Church of Jesus Christ is the restored version of Christ's ancient church, meaning that it is led by a living prophet and 12 living apostles. Every 6 months they do a 2 day conference which is broadcast all over the world where they and other members of the church give spiritual guidance, counsel and advice to the church members and anyone else who wants to listen. The conference "sessions" are two hours long and there are two of them on Saturday and two on Sunday, making a total of 8 hours of preaching. There is also a special Priesthood broadcast just for the men-folk (Not something I actually ever say in real life...) on Saturday evening that last another two hours.

It's a lot.

Growing up my parents always enforced us watching conference. We had to sit in front of the TV for every session and we were allowed to take notes OR draw pictures of the speakers.

Let me clarify:
This is not a visually entertaining experience. Most of the time the screen looks something like this:
Sometimes it gets really crazy and gives you a different angle. 
So although the talks are really good, it can get tiresome sitting and listening for all of those hours. However, in Utah conference is also transmitted over several radio stations. You can also listen online at lds.org.

This year Steven and I decided to stay home in our own apartment and just play conference over the radio. 

I can honestly say this was the year that I got the most out of conference. Because I didn't have to sit on the couch for what seems like endless hours, I didn't "zone out" at all! Instead I was able to do the dishes, clean the house and get a lot done, all while being inspired by the spoken word being broadcast all over our apartment. Since my hands were always otherwise occupied, my brain was free to just soak it all in.

Some favorite messages of this years conference were:
Elder Oaks:
There were so many moments in this talk that I was like, "Yes!! Yes yes yes!!" Such an important talk, and so clearly spoken. His candid message about protecting the children of the world touches on KONY, pornography, prostitution, abortion, adoption, politics, homosexuality, marriage and bullying. Pretty sure of all the conference talks this was the one that had the biggest impact and answered the most prayers for me.
I love children. I care for children on a weekly+ basis. I have been a nanny caring for others children full time. This talk touched my heart and just made me want to do more for the children I come in contact with, and again solidified my desire to give my future children the best life possible.

Favorite quotes (sorry, had a ton!):
"In every nation of every nationality and creed, all children are children of God."
"We are all under the Savior's command to love and care for each other."
"Parents or other care-givers or teachers or peers who demain, bully or humiliate children or youth can inflict harm more permanent than physical injury. Making a child feel worthless, unloved or unwanted can inflict serious and long-lasting injury on their development."
"Young people struggling with...same gender attraction, need loving understanding and not bullying or ostracism." ***THANK YOU!!!***
"The most powerful teaching of children is by the example of their parents. Divorcing parents inevitably teach a negative lesson." ***LOVED THIS***
"...None should resist the plea that we unite to increase our concern for children. We are speaking of the children of God, and with his help we can do more to help them."

Elder Holland:



Elder Uchtdorf
I won't give you too many details about my other two favorite talks, but if you want to listen to them they have amazing advice for life. These words are applicable to everyone, of every faith, gender and age.
I am glad to be part of a church with living Apostles and a modern Prophet to guide it. :) Woot!