Medical Marijuana and the LDS Church

Medical marjiuana.jpg

On Friday, February 5, 2016 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints opposed a bill in the Utah legislature brought forth by Senator Mark Madsen that would make Utah the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana. citing unintended consequences that could come with use of the drug.

And I am angry.

I grew up being taught that the LDS church was politically neutral. Every election season a letter is read over the pulpit in every Ward in the United States written by the First Presidency emphatically stating that the church keeps out of politics.

However, this past legislative session in Utah has proven that the church’s long-claimed stance of political neutrality is false. Most people outside the state don’t understand how one religion, no matter how prominent, can have such an effect on state policies. But it does. Most of the state legislators identify as LDS and as any LDS person will tell you, when the prophet speaks, you listen, and you do as you are told. Obedience above conscious.

The reason for opposing medical marijuana?

Unintended consequences.

You mean like people suffering from chronic, debilitating, and painful diseases getting relief?

You mean like people who do suffer those painful diseases not becoming addicted to the opioids their doctors prescribe because that’s all doctors can do legally?

You mean like people being high all the time on THC? NEWFLASH – these same people are high all the time. On opioids.

And because they are having to ever increase their opioid use with no legal proven alternative available, it is leading to some patients becoming addicted. Utah has an insanely high opioid usage rate as well as heroin rate. The Utah Department of Health has noted that Utah has an experienced a more than 400% increase in prescription drug use injuries and death in the last decade. An average of 21 Utahns die a month due to prescription drug overdoses. Utah ranks 8th highest in prescription drug overdose deaths in the United States.

Marijuana isn’t the drug you should be worried about, LDS church.

Heavy opioid use for chronic pain also leads to liver damage, digestive difficulties like not being able to keep food down and chronic, and bowel damaging, constipation.

I’m sure the LDS church leaders believe this is a moral issue, so I have to ask…

What’s so moral about letting people suffer?

No one has ever overdosed on Marijuana.

I could see if this were legalizing recreational marijuana use why the LDS church would be opposed to that and taking a strong stance against it.

But this is about medicinal use in oil form. Mormons love their medicinal oils. I’m sure if doTerra was pushing this, all the prominent MLM owning Mormons would jump at having it legalized.

Luckily Senator Madsen is not kowtowing to the incredible and inappropriate overreach of the LDS church into state politics. He has proposed 8 amendments to the law that he hopes will alleviate concerns to the Bill.

Anecdotally, when my mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer in August 2007. She opted for chemotherapy treatments to extend her life and it was awful. She threw up constantly. She couldn’t keep any food down, thereby becoming dehydrated. She was in constant pain. Her doctor prescribed for her Marinol to help increase her appetite and deal with the nausea chemotherapy caused. Marinol is one of the cannabinoids.

I wish I could sit down with the leaders of the LDS church and describe to them what it was like to watch my mom suffer an absolute nightmarish hell during her last 3 months on this earth. I wish I could tell them what it was like to sit with her in her hospital room watching her writhe in pain, wake up and look at me with panic-stricken eyes that reminded me of a wounded animal, and beg me, BEG ME, her second daughter, someone she called “girl baby” and nursed at her breast until I was 15 months old, BEG ME to go find someone to kill her. Please tell me how you would feel to have your mother, a light and sunshine to everyone she knew, be suffering so much she begged you to find someone to take her life.

You know that scene in Terms of Endearment when Debra Winger is in the hospital dying of cancer and her mother, Shirley MacClaine, goes and screams at the nurses and demands they relieve the suffering of her dying daughter? Yeah, that was me.

Please tell where the dignity is in letting dying people suffer when oil from a plant…A PLANT that God planted in the ground.. can alleviate suffering? Why are those who aren’t suffering constantly asking others to do it when they have no idea the pain that is involved?

On another anecdotal note, I’m old enough now to have several friends who suffer from various chronic, painful diseases:  Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, Anxiety, Erytohmelalgia (or Mitchell’s syndrome), and numerous other autoimmune disorders. THC has been proven to alleviate the pain and other symptoms that these debilitating and painful diseases cause. Prescribing people who are suffering ever-increasing amounts of opioids is unconscionable, and I would argue, ammoral.

So I’m begging the leaders of the LDS church to do the right thing. I was always taught growing up in church to do the right thing and let the consequences follow. I was taught to be honest in my dealings. I was taught to put the pain and suffering of others above my own comfort. Please LDS church, practice what you preach. Again I ask,

What’s so moral about letting people suffer?

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How I really feel…

As a child my mother worked very hard to teach me to be an independent person. She came from the era that women couldn’t rent an apartment, buy a house, hold a credit card or bank account in their name without a father or husband’s consent. She wanted her children to be able to take care of themselves once they left her home. My mother and father both had childhoods where they had to work hard and they both grew up with a good worth ethic. They never wanted to have children who were helpless.

It was because of this I learned that when it comes to my actions, my thoughts, my words…I am responsible for myself.

It’s because of this belief that I’m really tired of the lie that gets told in (mostly) religious cultures that says men are so base, vile, and corrupt that they cannot control themselves when it comes to their sexual passions. And because of this we women must cover ourselves up so as to not excite these men because they can’t help themselves. And if they do help themselves, it must be the woman’s fault, right? Wrong.

This idea isn’t new. The Victorians were so proper, a glimpse of an ankle was provocative. In some Muslim countries women are forced to be covered all over with burquas. Apparently in American religious contemporary society, a picture of a teenage girl not wearing a bra on Facebook is so shocking a mother has to write a shaming post about it telling these girls to keep away from her sons. The subtext being these sons are in no way capable of moderating their own reactions and mommy must do it for them.

Am I crazy to think that men are human beings and, therefore, capable of controlling themselves? Millions of men walk around this planet every day who are able to restrain their sexual passions and not act out on every sexual impulse that invades their brain. You’ll have to excuse me for not thinking that all men are just potential rapists waiting for the right trigger. The reason why I give men so much credit is because I know too many wonderful ones who are able to control themselves.

I think there comes a time in all of our lives when we realize that the only person we can control is ourselves. We can’t make people dress or act in the way we want them to. We can’t make them cater to our desires. We can’t make women cover up so as to not entice heterosexual men. Heterosexual men are going to be attracted to women that they are attracted to no matter what they wear. And, if I might add, how very self-centered of anyone to think that everyone else should cater to them.

I hope, with all sincerity that if a mother of teenage sons sees a girl on Facebook posting a “selfie” she finds provocative, she teaches her sons to control their own passions. Once they leave her home they are responsible for themselves. They need to be able to conduct themselves around women with propriety and respect. The way she does this is by teaching her sons that girls are human beings. Like Nate Pyle says, they need to be able to “see” women as human beings regardless of what they’re wearing.

The world doesn’t revolve around one single person (no matter how much Donald Trump wished it did) and we can’t expect people to be perfect and never make mistakes. I’m bothered by anyone who states that someone doesn’t get a second chance with them and then proclaims to be a Christian. I’m so grateful for the people who have given me a second chance. I  know that there are some people who will never give me a second chance, and that’s fine. That’s their loss. But I want everyone to know, you’ll always have a second chance with me. (Unless you continue to try to hurt me or someone I love. I do have boundaries).

“Jesus wasn’t about perfection. He was all about redemption. He said that he didn’t come to save the righteous, but the fallen. He gathered around him the prostitutes, tax collectors, and other ‘broken’ members of society and delighted in their company, not in the company of the self-righteous pharisees who stood on street corners exhibiting to the world how ‘perfectly’ they kept the letter of the law.” -Lorian Franklin Dunlop (someone I’m lucky to call a friend)

There might be people in this world who look at teenagers on social media and judge them as not worth their time based on a “selfie” they posted. They might decide that their sons or daughters shouldn’t be allowed to interact with these people any more. They might decide that these kids don’t ever deserve a second chance. They might feel superior to these kids because “they’re so perfect.” I’d like to remind them of my friend’s Lorian’s words and know that how you treat “the least of these” is a reflection of your character, not theirs.

That’s right, teenage girls who were shamed on the internet this week for daring to take a picture of yourself with pouty duck lips, what anyone has said or written about you is a reflection of their character, not yours.

And so I leave you with this, as my children go out into this world I want them to know that they are only in control of themselves. And if someone can’t get past the way their body looks enough to see the person behind the body, (their sparkling personalities, their wicked senses of humor, the kindness they show to others) and only seeks to make a sexual object out of them, that sin is not on their heads. There is no way that they dress or act that can cause someone else to sin. None. They are only the guardians of their own virtue, not anyone else’s.

Because Jesus.

sunset friends

A Month of Gratitude

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” – Melody Beattie

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving last year my bestie K and I went to a yoga class at the gym and our favorite yoga instructor read us this quote by Melody Beattie.  It was one of the best yoga sessions I have ever attended because our instructor set the entire intention toward gratitude.  She reminded us that during this crazy holiday season where stress is really high while we attend a million activities and parties while trying to decorate our houses and make holiday treats and buy a ton of presents for our kids, family, and friends, that it is good to slow down and really appreciate the blessings in our lives.

A lot of my friends have been posting on Facebook something they are grateful for every day until Thanksgiving.  Other friends have created a “gratitude tree” where they have a paper cut-out tree and every day they put a leaf on the tree with something they are grateful for until Thanksgiving (kind of like an Advent calendar) and I like this idea so much I think I will do it next year with my kids.  Last year I wrote an A,B,C post about things I am grateful for inspired by my friend Mitch.  All those things I’m grateful for still stand, but I wanted to re-iterate what I’m thankful for this year.

-I’m thankful for my family of origin.  God blessed me with two loving parents and two incredible siblings.  Even though my Mother is now in heaven and my Dad is far away, I still feel their love every day.  And my brother and sister are two of the greatest people I’ve ever known.  I’m grateful for their friendship, love, and support.  I love the people they are, the people they married who couldn’t be more perfect for them and add so much to our family, and the little people they created.  My nephews and niece are the cutest kids ever!  I’m glad that my nephews are such good friends with their cousins and that they love spending time together.  It’s true that some of your first best friends are your cousins.

-I’m thankful for the family the hubs and I created.  I married the best man I’ve ever known and not a single day has gone by where I didn’t think that marrying him was the best decision I ever made.   My sweet children add so much to my life and as usual they teach me more than I teach them.  It has been such a joy to watch them learn and grow.  I’m so grateful for the ease at which we have been able to add children to our family.  Working where I work, I can never take our fertility for granted.

-I’m thankful for the family I married into.  I’m so thankful for what a great family the hubs comes from because my mother and father-in-law are two of the nicest, kindest, most loving people I’ve ever known.  They accepted me as part of the family the day I met them.  They have helped the hubs and I out so much and they’ll never know how much I appreciate it, especially since they are the only grandparents my kids have who live nearby.  I love that my kids are so close to their grandparents and have such a bond with them.  Also, the hubs has some great siblings who also married some great people.  We have the cutest nephews and niece ever and I’m so glad my kids are close with their cousins.  The hubs’ sisters are some of my very best friends.

-I’m grateful for extended family and the love that has been given to me by uncles, aunts, cousins, second cousins, third cousins, great-aunts, and uncles, etc.  My extended family might not all be close by, but they’re always there supporting me and my family.  I’m grateful for my grandparents.  I didn’t get to know my paternal grandfather very well since he lived back east and died when I was 8.  My paternal grandmother was a force to be reckoned with and I’m glad I come from such a strong woman.  My maternal grandparents moved back to Utah from Boston when I was 2 and I was always so glad that I grew up having them be a part of my every day life.  My maternal grandfather was one of the best, kindest, most gentle men I’ve ever known.  He was out-going, loved life, never met a stranger, treated everyone like his friend, and I can’t help but think I married a man just like him.  My grandmother, while quite different from my grandpa, loved me and I’m grateful I got to know her better as an adult when the hubs and I took care of her.

-I’m grateful for good friends.  My NYCbestie and bestie K have been steadfast and loyal friends who have gotten me through a lot of hard times.  They are both my every day, in the trenches, through good times and bad, gigglefest, best friends.  My friend, Shupee, and her husband flew all the way across the country so they could spend 20 minutes at my mother’s viewing.  It was one of the most kindest, selfless things anyone has ever done for me.  She supported me through my mother’s illness by sending me cards and presents, and I wonder if she knew at the time how much that saved my life.  I have truly been blessed to call some of the most incredible people in this world my friends.

-I’m grateful for a warm home, a roof over my head, electricity, running water, enough clothes to change my outfit every day, and plenty of food, and a variety of it, to eat.  I read an article last Christmas that said if you have any of those things, you are more fortunate than 90% of all the people who have ever lived on the earth.  I try to remember this whenever I get bogged down in my first world problems.

-I’m thankful that my NYCbestie was not seriously affected by Hurricane Sandy and she is safe.  Especially considering she doesn’t live that far from places that were disastrously affected like Hoboken, NJ and Staten Island.

-I’m grateful for the good employment of the hubs and myself.  We’ve both worked in some crappy jobs and it’s nice we both now are employed in jobs and careers we love.  I’m grateful for the people I work with and the clients we work for.  I can honestly say my life has been blessed the last 6 years because of the type of work I’m involved in.

-I’m grateful for Mountain Dew and cheetos.

-I’m grateful for the great neighborhood we live in and kind, friendly, and helpful neighbors.  We moved here 3 years ago this Thanksgiving and it remains one of the best decisions we ever made for our family.  The kids go to a great school, have made great friends, and we are surrounded by great families.

-I’m grateful for my memories.  I’m grateful for having a mother who loved me unconditionally.  I’m grateful that if she can’t be here right now, that God gave me a mother-in-law whom I love like she was my own mother.  Sometimes I forget she didn’t birth me herself.  I’m grateful that if my kids can only have one grandma right now, that God gave them the best one.

-I’m grateful for words and writing and having an outlet to express myself.  I’m grateful for books and for a mother who instilled in me a love of books.

-I’m grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the peace it brings me.  I’m grateful for the atonement and for the opportunity to repent of my mistakes.  I’m grateful for the love and grace of my Savior because I know that I’m so far from perfect I could never measure up.

I hope that I can continue to reflect on all my blessings, not just during the holiday season, but all year long.

Helping Hands

My best friend has lived in New York City for 12 years.  A year after she moved there 9/11 happened and I spent the better part of the day of September 11, 2001 worrying about her safety.  October 29th of this year, I spent another day, and several days after, worrying about her safety due to Hurricane Sandy.  She was one of the lucky ones.  She is safe and never even lost her power.  I appreciated her constant Facebook updates and text messages letting me know she was okay.  I wish I could be there in New York aiding in the clean-up efforts.  Since I can’t be, I’m glad that members of my church, including one of the hubs’ cousins who is currently an LDS missionary in NYC, are there to offer a helping hand.

Check out this video to see just some of the people who, instead of holding church last Sunday, boarded buses to go help out their fellow brothers and sisters.

http://vimeo.com/53357089

This is pure religion.  It is exactly what our savior admonishes us to do.  It reminds me of the scripture found in Matthew 25:35-40

We are losing the real focus of the Gospel, people and it has nothing to do with “modesty”

This is not a Mormon-themed blog.  When I do write about my religion, I try to make it very personal, because I can only speak for myself and my personal faith.  But there is something going on in church culture right now and it is disturbing me deeply.   I believe that a lot of us Mormons have lost focus on the Gospel of Jesus Christ in favor of following a bunch of superficial rules.  Most specifically regarding dress standards and modesty.

I get it, it’s easier to mark-up a checklist of rules and believe we are “righteous” than it is to measure the charity in our hearts, our love for one another,  or develop a real relationship with our Savior.  But should the Gospel be easy?  Is it easy to come to Christ with a broken heart  and a contrite spirit?  No.  But it is easy to say today I read my Scriptures, prayed twice, paid my tithing, held Family Home Evening, did my family scripture study, didn’t drink any coffee, tea or alcohol, do any drugs, or smoke anything so I must be a good person, right?  Well I don’t know.  It is possible to do (or not do) all those things and still not be righteous because of the way you treated someone.  It doesn’t really matter how many Family Home Evenings you’ve held if you are gossiping, judging others, treating your spouse like crap, or going out of your way to make someone’s life miserable.  On the flip side, you can do all those things but also treat others with Christ-like love, acceptance, and go out of your way to serve.

And I’m not saying that I’m above reproach.  Oh no, I’m very well aware of all my imperfections and the mistakes I make on a daily basis.  I’m not always Christ-like, I do judge others (especially those who go out of their way to hurt people), and I’m not always as open-minded as I want to be.  So, by writing this I’m not trying to judge anyone, just call attention to how we all can be a little more Christ-like and a little less focused on the rules and more on loving others.  Because, after all, President Thomas S. Monson said, “Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.”

I didn’t want to write a post about modesty.  I am so, so, so sick of talking about it.  However, there are several instances where I believe Latter-day Saints have gotten out of hand with this modesty rhetoric.  For example, I have heard recently my friends tell me of incidents where:

  • A non-member friend was turned away from an LDS Youth activity for how they were dressed, which was entirely appropriate but not up to “Mormon modesty standards.”
  • A son was forbidden to pass the Sacrament because he has a shaggy haircut that his parents have no problem with.
  • A 12 year old girl was sent home from Girl’s Camp because all of her shorts came one inch above the knee and were not right at her knee or capri length.
  • An investigator was given snotty looks and was gossiped about for wearing a sleeveless dress to Church.
  • An adult woman was told that the way she dressed (which was modest by all accounts and covered her garments, she just happens to have a shapely figure) was so provocative it might turn on a man who might go out and rape someone because of seeing her.
  • A 28 year old single woman was given a lecture about how to attract a mate that had nothing to do with being a good person, good partner, and a woman of integrity, and everything to do about hygiene, wearing make-up, and dressing cute.
  • A mother posts pictures on her blog of her kids first day back to school and gets 100 comments, some of them chastising her and calling her righteousness into question, for letting her teenage daughter wear an appropriate top that just happened not to have sleeves on it.  In 114 degree weather.
  • A son was not allowed to bless the Sacrament because he was not wearing a white shirt.
  • Girls are being forced to wear loose t-shirts and shorts over their swimming suits at Girl’s Camp so as not to “tempt” the priesthood holders there, while boys are pretty much allowed to swim in trunks bare-chested at Scout Camp.
  • Notoriously, a girl was kicked out of the testing center at BYU-Idaho and was not allowed to take a test because she was wearing skinny jeans.  When in actuality she wasn’t and isn’t against the BYU dress code.
  • Notoriously, a girl studying in the library at BYU on Valentine’s Day was approached by a boy who gave her a note shaming her for the way she was dressed because it turned him on.

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Book Review – Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of my Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman

Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic RootsUnorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Deborah Feldman’s memoir of growing up as a Hasidic Jewish girl in the Williamsburg district of Brooklyn, New York, is stunningly raw and honest.  The first time I went to New York City, I saw a Hasidic Jewish family at the Toys R Us in Times Square as my friend and I were waiting in line to ride the in-door, four story, Ferris wheel.  I remember wondering if riding a Ferris wheel in a giant toy store was something they were allowed to do.  I had seen Hasidics represented on TV and in movies, but never have I considered or read what their orthodox Jewish beliefs are really about.  In fact, I have to admit, while always being interested in Judaism, I never really thought about the Orthodox Hasidic views until an 8 year old girl was harassed and spat upon in Israel by Orthodox Jews for dressing too “immodestly” on her way to school.  Right after, I saw Feldman on “The View” sharing her story and I was so stunned by her account of the rules she was forced to live by until she broke ties with her religion, family, culture, and husband as an adult.  I had no idea that educating a Hasidic girl past 8th grade is considered a waste of time.  I had no idea that reading books was a crime.  I had no idea that marriages are still arranged.  And their rules governing sex within a marriage are just astounding!  This book was a huge eye opener for me.  It made me keenly aware of the “rules” that I quietly obey without thinking about where they come from or where they originated in my culture.  I’ve since read that Feldman is being harassed online and members of her former culture are creating fake profiles in an effort to discredit her.  All I can say is it takes an exceptionally brave and strong person to cast off the shackles of the past, share your truth with the world, and let the slings and arrows fall where they may.

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Lent, Happy Ash Wednesday

I’m back from a bit of a blogging break.  Some things format-wise I’ve changed and I hope that makes my posts and links easier to read.  I’ve had a couple of people ask where my blog went and the truth is it went no where, I just made it visible to only myself.  Why did I do that?  Well, I’ve been going through some personal stuff and I just needed a moment to step back for a minute, catch a breath, and move forward.  The sadness from my mother’s birthday, combined with a couple of other disappointments, put me in a sad place for a few days.  I honestly didn’t know how long this break would last.  I didn’t know if I was going to shut the lights out on this blog forever or what.  But in the end, I knew I’d always have something to say and write about, and well, here I am.

Which leads me to the point of this post.

As I wrote in this post, I am a member of the LDS church (aka The Mormons).  I consider myself to be a Christian, and yet, I feel so lacking when it comes to the most important Christian holiday, Easter.  A lot of people believe that Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, is the most important Christian holiday, but I disagree.  While I believe that Christmas is a sacred holiday and we should rejoice in the birth of our Savior (“ours” as in, Christian’s…not as in pushing my religious beliefs on the whole world), Easter is when we celebrate the Savior fulfilling his mission on earth and being resurrected.  And yet, Easter doesn’t get much lip service in my church.  I can only remember maybe a handful of Sacrament meetings that were really moving Easter productions, but that is it.

And I’m craving a more spiritual experience on Easter.  So this year, I’m observing Lent.

Years ago I was talking to the hubs’s cousin who is a practicing Catholic.  I love her to pieces and was very lucky to work with her for 3 years.  In that time we became what we called, “best cousins.”  Anyway, it was about this time of year and we got talking about Lent.  I think she had just gone to Ash Wednesday Mass and still had the ashes on her forehead at work that night.  I was asking her in depth questions about Lent and what she was going to give up, so on, and so forth.  She said that during Lent you don’t have to just give up something, you can start a new habit.  I think she said she was going to start saying daily prayers and I liked that starting something for Lent could bring you to a more spiritual place then, let’s say, just giving up ice cream for 40 days.

Last year I had an idea, I think sparked by one of my Christian friends on Facebook, about Lent and so I decided that this was something I was going to do for Easter 2012.  I’ve decided that between Ash Wednesday (today) and Holy Thursday (the usual 40 day duration for Lent), that I’m going to read the first four Gospels of the New Testament.  All of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  Studying the New Testament my first year in LDS Seminary was my favorite year and I like to repeat studying the New Testament as an adult.

Because we don’t observe Lent, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, and Good Friday in my church, you’ll have to forgive me if I’m not going about this correctly.  Any “gentle” correction would be appreciated.  Most of what I learned about Lent I learned on the wikipedia page, and we all know that wikipedia has never steered anyone wrong .  You might ask what a Mormon gal like me is doing celebrating Lent.  No, I’m not trying to highjack a holiday that my religion lays no claim to.  What I’m trying to do is cement a further commitment in me to my Savior and the sacrifice I believe he made for me.  My spirit is craving the spiritual.

For Lent, I’ve already come up with a Scripture reading schedule and I am very excited.  I don’t think I’ve read the New Testament since high school.  During that year I studied the New Testament, I felt like I developed a strong Spiritual connection with this man named Jesus, the Christ, and I would like to feel that again.  I’m yearning for a more spiritual connection.

Then I got thinking about sacrifice and the sacrifice I believe, as a Christian, that my Savior did for me.  I believe that he bled from every pore in the Garden of Gethsemane to atone for my sins.  I believe he hung on a cross for 3 days and died for me.  And because he made this sacrifice for me, I thought that maybe I could make a sacrifice for him, while I study his life in the Four Gospels.  So, I’ve decided to abstain from Mountain Dew for 40 days.  Now, I’ve tried to give up the Dew in the past, many, many times.  But I’ve never consecrated my desire to quit with a prayer.  I’ve never given it up in an effort to sacrifice something for my Savior.  This is why I believe I might be a bit more successful in giving it up this time.

So there it is.  I’m observing Lent this year.  I’m hoping to get something out of it, and if and when I do, I’ll write about that as well.  I don’t want Easter to just mean a new dress and a basket full of goodies for me.  I hope that by observing Lent this year Easter will mean more for me and my family.