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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Part 3: NEW YEARS DAY TALK on; SERVICE AND ENDURING TILL THE END

I'm sorry it has taken me so long to finish typing out my handwritten sermon I gave in Church this past New Years Day. Many new wonderful things have been happening to me, one of them a new job. It only confirms to me the full significance and impact this talk had on my life, and setting me on a new course, that I have been good and ready for, for over 40 years.   I hope most of you will be able to read all three parts of this talk together as I gave them, so that you can feel the same way the congregation did afterward. I would appreciate you leaving comments on how any of this made you feel, both pro and con. Thank you.


PART  THREE:

In Romans 8: 24-27, we read, "...waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.  For we are saved by HOPE:  but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we Hope for that we see not, then we do with patience wait for it.  Likewise, the spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God."

Our 13th Article of Faith states, "We believe in being honest , true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous and doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul--We believe all things, we HOPE all things, we have endured many things, and HOPE to be able to ENDURE all things.  If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."

It is with all my heart, I believe it is in service to others we are accomplishing the 13th article. That commitment of benevolence, virtue and doing good to all human beings, without conditions, that we stock up on the hope and change that we need to be able to have the endurance to be our best true selves. It is our best true selves that God wants us to be. Being our best true self is our last best hope to gain all the faith, hope and charity we need to endure all our infirmities, which is the definition of a successful life. A life that will be rewarding with all our hopes and dreams in store. A life in which Jesus will be happy in intercession, and Heavenly Father proud in welcoming home.

Finally, I wish to convey a small scrap of one of the most spectacular instances of hope, faith, optimism and endurance that has ever been recorded.

It is the expedition of Sir Ernest Shackleton, his crew of 27, and the most aptly named ship, "Endurance". Some of you may, by now, know about him and the fantastic challenges he and his crew endured.  There are over two dozen books and many T.V. shows, documentaries, and a couple feature movies, about his voyages. The Endurance expedition bears a short retelling for the purposes of this talk, in that, Sir Ernest Shackleton embodies the very essence of altruistic spirit we are admonished to have. That is to say, he showed us by example how to endure, virtually anything, if we but have faith, and hope, and actively serve others by having others foremost on our minds and effort,  above ourselves.

Shackleton's legacy is simple service, loyalty, love, commitment and endurance. His expedition diary entitled "South" is one of the most astounding accounts of persevering service, against all odds, that has ever been written. Shackleton's 1914-1916 expedition, (keep in mind, this is before radio), was an attempt to cross Antarctica, which had never been done.    
          [at this point all I wrote was short prompts, because I know the story by heart, I own and have read all two dozen books....I did give this talk with passion and emotion, and I did not look down reading in a monotone voice the whole while....I hope I didn't, but this part ensured that I could connect with the congregation. If you want to know all of what I said, and be more fulfilled, find some of the books yourself, and read them, you'll be glad you did. I teared up and cried several times in the retelling of this story as I always do. I did the same, several other times in this talk, especially reading the song, "People Have The Power". My true feminine nature really blossomed in this talk, and I am truly thankful for that.]

     (prompts only)
A few weeks into the expedition
Endurance stuck in ice flows in the Weddell Sea
Endurance is crushed by sea ice 10 months later
28 men made camp on sea ice flows
5 more months passed
They man-hauled one ton sledges
Stuck on small football field sized ice flow
take 3 lifeboats to Elephant Island
a most God forsaken land with no vegetation
Prayed for guidance
Noted his officers cheery optimism
A Bold Challenge
Sail ramshackle boat, cannibalized from other two
Sail 1000 miles-most inhospitable seas on Earth
faced 100ft waves, near constant hurricane force winds
took 5 cheery optimists with him
left behind 22 on Elephant Island
Landed on wrong side of South Georgia Island
     on the south, while the whaling station is on the North side
Must cross never before crossed 12,000 ft Mountain Range
Have crewman nap for 10 minutes
Wake them, telling them they slept for 4 hours
2 1/2 years after ordeal began, they arrived at whaling station
Over the next 8 months, Lead 4 expeditions to attempt Elephant Island
Turned back three times because of storms and ice
4th try, with assistance from the Chilean government....
     SIR ERNEST SHACKLETON, THE BOSS, AS HE WAS AFFECTIONATELY CALLED, RESCUED   A-L-L  H-A-N-D-S.  He never lost a man, not ONE.  Sir Ernest Shackleton performed a great service, showing his love, commitment, loyalty, altruism, sacrifice for others, hope and optimism....and he surely ENDURED TILL THE END.

Brothers and Sisters, I hope and pray, that like Sir Ernest Shackleton, we can serve others and endure to the end.

I leave you with this challenge;  to double our service to others in this coming new year, 2012. I also challenge you to bring just one other person with you to a day of service or two. The coming MLK Day of Service would be a wonderful way to start, and I hope all of you will join with me, I have sign-up sheets.

In closing, I leave you with the words of my favorite band, The Moody Blues;  [given in song, singing]

          WHEREVER YOU GO
          WHATEVER YOU DO
          WHATEVER YOU SAY
             SAY----SAY----SAAAAYYYYY
             SAY IT WITH LOVE!!!!

These things I leave with you, In the name of Jesus Christ,  Amen.


I have to say I felt wonderful, engulfed with the Spirit as I gave this talk. A feeling that is with me to this day, more than 8 months later. When Sacrament meeting was over, I was mobbed by seemingly half the congregation, and those that didn't found me later that day or the next week or two. What was most stunning was that so many people wanted copies of my talk. I've felt impressed to ask for copies of other peoples talks before, but I never thought is would happen to me.  Even the Bishop and his counselors commented on how wonderful they thought it was. I think I'll judge that by how long it will be before I'm asked to be a featured speaker again. They seemed sincere though, so did many people I thought felt animosity towards me, including a couple I know to be openly hostile to me, one telling many congregants, "don't be friends with that, Bob _____"

There was an investigator there for his third time, and while going on splits with the missionaries, he told me he was just going through the motions, and that he had already decided on not coming back. He said that my talk perked his ears and got his attention, and he felt something stir in him. He told me, my talk inspired him to give the Church a second chance and continue the lessons, and keep coming to Church. He got baptized a couple months ago.

Another investigator heard it through the grapevine, weeks later about my talk. She came to me asking if she could have a copy, and of course by this time my preparedness insured I had ample copies in my briefcase. I gave her one, and the next week she came right up to me and hugged me, and thanked me for something she never got to hear. She also got baptized.

So many people were touched I can't name them all here. Just as importantly, if not more so, it very much impacted me, and changed me for the better.  This talk was the spark igniting the kindling shining the light on my true self....for now I am full on bonfire mode.

When I retrieved my copy of "SOUTH", by Sir Ernest Shackleton from one of my bookshelves, I uncovered a dusty, forgotten book, I didn't remember ever getting. It is called "The Illustrated Discovery Journal", by Sarah Ban Breathnach. It has some text, but its main point is to prompt you into making collages that reveal who you really are. You are to actually discover your true self!  AND THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT HAS HAPPENED.  In this case it awakened me to the truth I had tried so hard to conceal for 48 1/2 years!

Page after page, new collage after collage, I was having a ball finding out who I really was. Going through all the sources and magazines I was asked and prompted to use and cutting the things out that revealed me, that I liked or inspired me, or aspired for was time consuming, but it was fun, way more fun than most anything I was doing at the time, and way better than T.V. I still didn't have a computer yet and knew very little about the internet. This journal became MY LIFE!  And it revealed my life, pulling the wool off my eyes.

This Discovery Collage Journal was a decisive factor in my openly accepting myself for who I've always known myself, since I was 4 years old, to be.  That being,  that I AM A GIRL, I AM A WOMAN, I AM A TRANSGENDER WOMAN, I AM A TRANSSEXUAL WOMAN.....I AM HAPPY....I AM PROUD....I AM NOT ASHAMED.....THIS IS TRUTH.....THIS IS WHAT GOD WANTS FOR ME....I MUST ACCEPT THIS....I MUST BEGIN THE COMING OUT PROCESS......I MUST NOT DENY THIS ANYMORE......NO MORE DENIALS!!!

There were some other things that happened to augment my desire to come out of the closet. Namely, lead singer of the band "Against Me", came out as a transgender woman, Laura Jane Grace.....I've temporarily co-opted her new last name as a nod to her courage that inspired me to also come out. My third of three daughters, all shutting me out of their High School Graduations!  I am so sick of feeling like absolute crap for so many years in a row, every June. Well, every other year, as they are spaced two years apart. This last daughter was the last straw. She was my last hope for "Bob", he really needed this. He died, with no hope for being revived, right then and there. I cried my eyes out, while at the same time, my so called, "Bell" was going off.....I am like the perverbial racehorse that is trained to run at the sound of the bell, with only ONE PURPOSE.

My Bell is now going off, I am out of the gate, I'm out of the closet to everyone except my wife and girls and my Bishop. They must be told before long, or I will come up lame with a broken leg, needing to be put down. I am running, I am blossoming, I AM BLASTING OFF............I AM  A  "GO AT THROTTLE UP",  The all-in point in my journey, the point of no safe return.....THUS, THE NAME OF THIS BLOG!     Can You Feel It?

My name is Leanorah-Loreli Shawnamee Grace, Leah-Loreli or just Leah for short. I thank you for reading my blog, and I hope you will join me on this wonderful journey as I continue coming out and begin my transition. I have a long way to go, I must take baby steps, and it wont be easy. I have many infirmities, many barriers, many obstacles, and will face much adversity and afflictions. But I must persevere, I must retain my cheery optimism, my happy go lucky, pollyanna outlook, my faith, hope and charity. It is my hope my wife, my daughters and my Church will all accept me, but I have no way of knowing this until the point of coming out to them. I will always love my wife and honor my temple covenants, and love my children, I will always be their Dad. But come what may, this is happening!

Until next time, this is Commander Leah, singning off, over and out.

p.s.
I welcome all your comments, share similar experiences, what inspired or edified you, what did you disagree with, or turn you off?  Give me advise, I want to be a better person, I don't know everything. I appreciate your time and willingness to learn about me. I hope to post about all aspects of my life, so I hope you will find something you like,

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Part 2 : New Years Day Talk on; SERVICE AND ENDURING TO THE END

I hope you are still with me here. I was too tired yesterday to type, and I just got through helping a friend put brakes on their car. And now my T.V. just died. It was a console I've had for 22 years. It was used when I got it, so I got extremely good value from it. I wanted to see Doctor Who tonight, oh well. So, I will get right into more of my main talk in Sacrament on January 1, 2012. The original was handwritten in cursive, as all my talks have been. So this is the first time I'm typing this.

Part 2:

          If we fall into the trap of developing a tiered or dichotomous system of treating people, and place conditions on whom we will respect, and whom we will dis-respect, whom we will serve and whom we will cause dis-service, trotting out our bigotries such as homophobia, Islamophobia, and xenophobia, then we bring ourselves out of compliance with God's Commandments. It is not for us to judge who is to be a recipient of our service, our love, our empathy, compassion, charity, generosity, and liberality. It is never correct for any of us to target people for dis-service, denigration, dis-respect, mockery, dis-edification, and myriad negative outcomes resulting from the cause and effect of ones bigotries. And lets make one thind crustal clear right here, right now....Ignorance of the terribly wicked and abhorrant outcomes that ones bigotries cause, does not absolve one of the bigotry perpetrated or acquiesced to, which are sinfulness. Only service, in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to those we targeted, victimized and offended, can overcome and help unlearn our narrow-minded and exclusivist tendencies. Service is a wonderful thing that can overcome a lot. Service brings us to truly have love for people.

Love all people, everywhere, at all times, are the themes President Hinkley expressed, when in 2004, speaking on providing service, fellowship and love toward others he stated, "We as Latter Day Saints are too cliquish and clannish." He went on to admonish the Saints for being too exclusionary, too inwardly focused, too closed off from other people that don't happen to be of our faith. God wants for us to reach beyond our comfortable habits and relations, and to seek out those in need of service, and to eventually become comfortable and happy about reaching out to others.

First Counselor of the First Presidency, Henry B. Eyring spoke in the last General Conference, in October, that there is a message of encouragement to us, stating, "The Book of Mormon makes the charge plain to us, first we have promised to become charitable, second, we promise to become witnesses of God, thirdly, we promise to endure. It is not a fluke that all three of these promises are directly related to service. Service is a very vital and important promise we make.

Church  Spokesman, Michael Otterman, on October 13, 2010, making an official position statement said,"to belittle, disparage, denigrate or work to the detriment or dis-service to others is wrong." I believe in absolute compliance with this Church Policy, it is wrong for us to ever advocate to withhold rights to others that we ourselves enjoy. Whenever someone trots out the Proclamation on the Family, and uses it as a tool of mass destruction, that is to say, to deny the affirmation tool of positivity for us that it is, to instead twist and pervert it into a hateful tool of mockery of those we otherize, to belittle, disparage, and denigrate others, to make assumptions of negativity what the First Presidency really meant was...this, this, and this is bad and evil, which is not and never will be part of a Proclamation or our Docrine. Such perpetration's and acquiescence's amount to a commission of bigotry, and is unbecoming of a Latter Day Saint. How could any of us ever be edified or served by a document used as a tool of dis-affirmation. The Proclamation and everything about the Gospel and the Restored Church is about positive affirmation and edification to serve one another, in love. Always look for and empower the positive in all we see. It is not for us to judge the negative, and certainly not exude negativity as a Church body, group or individual. We are a happy people, lets prove it in all we do and all we think, and all we espouse forth in our proclaiming. There is nothing happy about dissing others to affirm ourselves, and there is nothing right about it either.

Now, I understand, that hearing all this, having such a rosy way of thinking, such values, such morals, I come across as a bleeding heart liberal!......Well Duh!.....everyone knows I'm Bob, the Liberal....or That Liberal Brother Isaak. It's all true. I wake up every morning of my life, ever more liberal than the day before. Let me show you how much, by reading this poem;  People Have the Power .

     I was dreaming, in my dreaming of an aspect bright and far
     and my sleeping, it was broken, but my dream, it lingered near
     In the from of shining valleys, where the pure air recognized
     and my senses newly opened, I awakened to the cry
     That the people have the power to redeem the work of fools upon the meek
     the graces shower, it's decreed, the people rule
          People Have the Power
          People Have the Power
          People Have the Power
          People Have the Power
     Vengeful aspects become a suspect, and bending low, as if to hear
     Then the armies ceased advancing, because the people had their ear
     Then the shepherds and the soldiers, lay beneath, among the stars
     Exchanging visions and laying arms to waste in the dust
     In the form of shining valleys, where the pure air recognized
     and my senses newly opened, I awakened to the cry
          People Have the Power (repeat 3 times)
     Where there were deserts, I saw fountains, like cream the waters rise
     We strolled there together with none to laugh or criticize
     and then the leapard and the lamb lay together, truly bound
     I was hoping in my hoping, to recall, what I had found
     Well I was Dreaming in my Dreaming, God Knows A Purer View
     as I lay down in my sleeping, I commit my dream to you.
          People Have the Power (repeat 3 times)
     The Power to Dream, to Rule, to Wrestle the Earth From Fools
          It's Decreed, The People Rule
          Well it's decreed the People Rule
     Listen!.....I believe everything we dream can come to pass through our union
     Oh, We can turn the world around, We Can Turn The Earths Revolution
          We Have The Power
          People Have The Power
          People Have The Power
          People Have The Power
     The Power To Dream, to Rule, To Wrestle The Earth From Fools
      It's decreed the people rule
      It's decreed the people rule
          We Have the Power
          People Have the Power
          We Have the Power

This poem was turned into a song by Patti Smith. It is my favorite song of all time as you could tell. I have never been able to hear it, read it or sing it without crying. It really speaks to my spirit and deep within my heart. God does know a purer view, but that we should not just give up solving social problems because he isn't here yet. We do have the power and authority to wrestle the Earth from all the fools, who are a dis-service to others, who denigrate others, ostracize and belittle others. Our service to others includes much activism, in calling out the bigots for who and what they are, and to wrestle the world from them, and actively live our faith in love and be building up Zion.

So, now you know that not only am I Liberal, but I am also a Utopian, because I will not acquiesce to the social problem filled dystopia. I am a dreamer, as in the Supertramp song "Logical Song", a radical, a Pollyanna. I embrace and aspire to be such things, I am not ashamed of them.

There was a T.V. show that ran from 1978-1994, called Knots Landing. One of the main characters was Karen MacKenzie. She defended herself in an episode I still remember off the top of my head some 25 years later, "I want to be a Pollyanna", she cried out, "I desire and Like being a Pollyanna. Pollyanna's make the world go 'round. The Pollyanna's among us love and serve others before themselves. Pollyanna's want to make the world a better place. Pollyanna's have the hope and faith to make beneficial change. Heaven can be a Place on Earth because of Pollyanna's." She was such a passionate force for service, faith, hope and Charity for all, I always found myself on her side and I always could relate to her. I could always relate to her best friend Valene too.

A recent term that I feel describes what I have is "Hopium". Yhe combination of Hope and Optimism. Not that Hope and Change isn't working, it is working just fine.....but try Hopium, it will change your life.

It is my hope and desire that we all get a little Hopium, and a desire to love and to serve and to spread the spirit of Christmas throughout the entire New Year.



(and I am going to cut it off here, and the finale will be part three, okay? Okay!)