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.
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.]
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 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.
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,