Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sunday Will Come

This is a wonderful new Mormon Message, that I think will have a special meaning for the widowed.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Parable of The First Responder

I wrote this last year and published it on my normal blog, I thought it would be nice to share with you. Enjoy, and have a great weekend, and for the men, a wonderful father's day.

I have to give a little bit of back-story to this post. I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. When I was born, my family lived in a rural area outside of Cincinnati called Batavia, Ohio.

As with most rural areas of our country, the first responders (police, fire department and life squad - now called ambulance) were all volunteer. In some areas they still are today. These are people who hold regular jobs, but during their time off they are on call and/or stationed at their respective buildings in order to quickly respond to an emergency. My father served, for a period of some years, as a volunteer at one time or another for all three in Batavia.

All photos are Copyright Cassandra Dawn Bushman

His Police Badge:

His Fire Fighter Badge:

Dad's Life Squad certification:

This parable is about the true nature of service. We have so many people who serve, but even more who only claim to serve but don't really walk the walk. The term "public servant" comes to mind with some of our elected officials. I was raised with an atmosphere of service in the home I grew up in. This started with my parents.

Let's think of the amount of hours my father spent getting trained for each of the 3 volunteer positions he held in Batavia. Did it take him away from his family? Yes. Was it time consuming? Yes. Was it worth it to the people he rescued? Absolutely yes.

Let's think about the calls he got to rescue someone or help someone in distress. Did these come at inconvenient times for my family? Yes. Was it worth it to the people he helped? Absolutely yes.

Some of these emergencies were flooded river banks, fires, medical emergencies in the home, bad vehicle accidents as well as robberies and disputes. How much do you think people valued Dad's willingness to drop everything and come to a rescue? The word priceless comes to mind, but Mastercard might have issues with that.

Dad always had to be prepared for any emergency, even if we were out for a family car ride here in Arizona and Dad was no longer the "official" first responder he had been in the past. I witnessed many times both of my parents administering emergency aid to someone at a rest stop, including one man who had been severely burned from his car's radiator cap exploding on him.

This was in the days before cell phones, when making a simple phone call was not an option.

Now let's think about what we call "service" today. Yes, there are some fantastic examples of service, including the first responders we have today (paid and unpaid), those in the military and their families, and anyone working in a public school. This includes not only the teachers, but also the staff who are the unsung heroes in public education.

There are also, I'm sorry to say, those whose "service" leaves something to be desired.

Those who abuse the word not only set a bad example, but they will, I believe, ultimately be exposed to the rest of the world for what they really are.

Ultimately, the questions we should be asking are: a) What kind of service do we give (this includes me as well ;o); and b) What kind of people should we be really looking up to? Celebrities, sports stars, politicians, or to those who provide the service most people never see?

I can be grateful that although my Dad was not perfect (he passed away on Dec. 13, 2006), he and Mom did set examples for me to rely on, even today.

I love you Dad, Happy Father's Day.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sample Funeral Checklist

I have a bit of housekeeping to do.

I was talking about this blog to my Stake President, and he suggested that I post the Sample Funeral Checklist from my web site.

The story behind this is that when Decker and I got married, Decker was called and sustained to be the High Priest Group Leader for our Ward. One of his brethren passed away about a year or so into our marriage and Decker was asked by our Bishop to assist the widow with funeral preparations. Decker told me this (we worked as a team on a lot of things with both our callings in the Church), and showed me this checklist that looked like a copy of a copy of a copy. I felt, given the computer technology in our home, we could make a newer version, so that's what I did.

It has been used a few times before that I know of, but the next use I had for it was for Decker's funeral arrangements.

Here's the link, it's a Microsoft Word document: Funeral Checklist

I've left it in this format, so that anyone else wanting to use it can change the local cemeteries and mortuaries.

Not a pleasant thought, but it really came in handy for me when I needed it.

The Answer

For those who are read my entry from last Friday, I posed a little quiz question at the end of the post. Have you seen the children in the Celestial Room of the Mesa Temple?

They are actually called cherubs, but they appear to be little children with gowns on. They are above the doorway that leads out to the main hallway and stairwell. They are white friezes, two on each side of the doorway. Be sure to take a look and say hello the next time you're visiting.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

This Week I Learned...

This week I learned...

That I don't have to cry anymore on my wedding anniversary.

That Decker still has a sense of humor - starting off the endowment ceremony in Spanish and then asking me (in spirit) why I couldn't understand what was being said.

That it's not just the words being used by Satan that was deceitful, but how he used them and the different types of coercion used by him to get Eve to partake when Adam would not.

That the reason we go all the way to the Celestial Room on behalf of those who are deceased is that they have the same chance that we have to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ and achieve the Celestial Kingdom as those of us on Earth who have received and accepted the ordinances. If they were restricted to the Telestial Kingdom, then why go all the way to the Celestial Room in the Temple?

That we are "valiant in the testimony of Jesus" by using the Sword of the Spirit, in the Armor of God. It is the only part of the armor that is an offensive weapon, all of the rest of the armor is defensive. We are to use this sword to pierce the hearts of our brothers and sisters into a remembrance of Christ.

That the distinction of light between the different degrees of glory is not just symbolic of their differences, but also the distinction of truth and knowledge that will be bestowed upon those inhabiting those kingdoms. Telestial and Terrestrial glories will be given some knowledge, but it will be limited and based upon the degree of glory achieved. Only the Celestial Glory will reveal all, thus the glory of a sun that hides no light, the Celestial Glory will hide no truth and knowledge.

The Sons of Perdition will receive no light, no knowledge, because they took the light that was given them and denied it (or in the terms of the Parable of the Talents, they buried it Matt. 25: 14-30).

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ask A Mortgage Counselor

For anyone who has questions or needs some help with their mortgage, Channel 8 (KAET) will have phone banks and a special on Wednesday, June 17th.

Ask A Mortgage Counselor

Wedding Anniversaries

Photo courtesy The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Today is my 11th wedding anniversary. As I have the blessing of living close to the Temple Decker and I were sealed in, I was able to go and attend a session there, then have a late lunch. When I first started doing this after Decker died, it was hard. Really, really emotional to the point of draining. But the blessings outweigh the sacrifice. Now I feel comfort, and today I could feel that Decker was not only there, but having a little bit of a laugh at something that happened. The session started off in tongues, namely Spanish. But then, as things progressed in English, there were new things I was being shown and taught. It never ceases to amaze me at how much there is to learn there.

Decker and I spent a lot of time in that Temple, we were both already endowed when we got engaged, so a lot of our dating was done at the Mesa Temple. By the time we were sealed in the Temple our marriage was Decker's 77th sealing session. And when we did get married, Decker gave me the wonderful surprise of a road trip, Temple hopping through Utah.

Decker and I especially did a lot of sealings prior to our marriage, as we both wanted to know what kind of covenants we would be making. While doing so, we would attend sessions that were conducted by a brother who knew a lot about the Temple and the covenants you make throughout all of the Temple activities.

While I can't talk about all of what was discussed, I will bring up one bit of trivia. For those of you who attend the Mesa Arizona Temple, have you seen the children in the Celestial Room?

I'll post the answer next week.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Last Lecture

If you haven't seen this, or read the book, you need to watch this. Dr. Randy Pausch will be gone 1 year in July. This video does contain some swear words, however Disney has released an edited version of this on dvd, you can get it at Barnes & Noble.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Blessings of The Temple

The Church now has a YouTube channel called Mormon Messages. Click here to go to the web site.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Priesthood Backup Plan

This is probably pretty obvious for the sisters, but maybe not for the brothers. A few years ago I was in a situation where I needed a Priesthood blessing. I did what I thought I only needed to do: I called my home teachers. Unfortunately at that time my home teachers consisted of a High Priest and a Deacon, which meant only one could give the blessing, and that one person was unavailable.

To make a long story short, phone calls were made and one brother from my Ward was able to come to provide a blessing. Afterwards the people who knew of my situation forgot about what was going on, so no further assistance was given. In other words, I fell through the cracks.

In order to prevent this from happening again, I sat down with my home teachers and Bishop and we came up with a plan for me to have a list of backup names and phone numbers. Along with this was the instruction that the Home Teachers would also have the names and phone numbers of my Visiting Teachers so that calls would be made and more people would be aware of the situation. I would strongly urge other widows to do the same.

Priesthood Backup List

Immediate family members (if applicable)
Home Teachers
High Priest Group Leadership
Elder's Quorum Presidency
Stake Presidency

Having something like this already in place can provide some order, as well as peace of mind, during emergencies when it matters most.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Little Bit About Me

I'm not you're regular Mormon.

I was born in a Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, and raised Baptist. Not a practicing Baptist, mind you, as the pastor of the Church absconded with some of the Church's money and left to go into televangelism. And no, thankfully, his name was not James Bakker.

I was, from an early age, interested in religion. I was baptized a Baptist when I was 6 and already knew somewhat of what I was doing then. Given what happened with that Church, I wanted to know what I should be looking for in a Church, so I prayed to God. I had this open relationship with God, because I had been taught He loves kids.

I began having dreams and other various spiritual experiences, because I would ask. This included dreams of what I should be looking for in a Church.

Fast forward to high school, when I turned 14 years old I began to seek a religion in earnest. I knew there was something more to life, but I didn't know where to find it. The closest I got was the Messianic Jews (now known as Jews for Jesus), before I asked the neighbors across the street if I could go to their LDS Church with them. The first Sunday I went with them I attended the full block and knew by the end of Sunday School that this was the Church I had been looking for. This was the one I had been dreaming about since childhood. My first experience with receiving a confirmation by the Holy Ghost was, I kid you not, reading D&C 132. Eternal Marriage. How prophetic.

My family was not happy about my joining. They wouldn't allow me to attend Seminary, I was very blessed, however to attend girls camp once and that was after my senior year. It was a special girl's camp up at NAU in Flagstaff, called Horizons '84. I went and attended as many workshops as I could, the one that I repeated was the workshop they gave on Temple marriage. I still remember it and the view of a modest wedding dress that was on display.

After I turned 18 I was finally able to take the missionary discussions, but by this time I was not only reading scriptures, I was also reading Bruce R. McConkie. Not your average investigator. My family, however, was not going to quit without a fight and joined an anti-Mormon group called Concerned Christians. I was taken to see movies defiling the Temple (they made me nauseous) and literally brought up in front of a group at one of their meetings where it was announced I was joining the Church. I just stood there and waited for someone to start throwing stones at me, I thought I was going to be killed that night. I managed to survive that and the group trying to stop me from attending my own baptism, and was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with my Ward family, the neighbors, but not my family.

I was in a variety of Wards and participated in the singles program. Because of some things going on with my family, I moved out for a few years and received my endowments in the Mesa Temple in February 1992. When I was 31, I was helping the neighbor family in the kitchen at a Singles Conference when I met this fun man with his niece. They were cousins of the neighbor family who baptized me in the Church. By the end of the day we were dancing exclusively on the dance floor and exchanging information to start dating. This was on November 15, 1997, on December 20th Decker proposed to me in the Celestial Room of the Temple.

We were married on June 12, 1998 in the Mesa, Arizona Temple. Decker had guardianship of one of his nieces, and she remained with us while she finished high school. We tried to have children, but I was not able to conceive. We were within months of starting the testing to find out what was wrong when Decker died unexpectedly.

On the morning of August 14, 2000, I awoke one morning at 12:30 in the morning to find him in our bathroom gasping for air. I called 911 and the ambulance took him to the hospital. I honestly felt things were going to be alright, we would get him stabilized and find out what we needed to do so he could regain his health. It didn't work out that way. I drove myself to the hospital and waited in the waiting area. They wouldn't let me see him. Then a code blue was called out, but I still wasn't panicking about it. Some time later the doctors came out and asked me what had happened. I told them, and then I asked how Decker was doing. I was told he was gone.

There's been a lot of grieving and growing since this, but also some really profound testimony building experiences. On occasion Decker will be allowed to visit with me in my dreams, and when we do it's usually spent embracing each other. One of the things I miss is the touching, cuddling and hugging that was such a big part of our relationship. I usually do pretty good emotionally, there are two times of the year I can count on being a basket case: our wedding anniversary and the anniversary of his death. And, for obvious reasons, I don't do Mother's Day, except to spend it with my own Mother. The semi-annual anniversary of his death falls on Valentine's day, so I hadn't celebrated it for a while, but I celebrated it with the kids I work with this year. It was actually fun, and a little bit liberating from the pain.

My father passed away from cancer in 2006, I was there, helping Mom with him to the end. When he died, I was able to help my Mother, not only as a daughter, but as a widow buddy. It was something I wasn't expecting, but I am grateful for. Her health is slowly declining, now, and when she's gone I will have to start a new life. Again.

To Marry, or Not To Marry?

This is a question that faces all widowed members of the Church, whether male or female, but given the limits placed upon widows who marry again it can be a daunting question.

This is my opinion on this:

First of all, the decision to marry is between the individual and the Lord, whether it be for the first time, second, etc. The Church's official stance on this for widowed members who are sealed to their deceased spouse is that the widowed member doesn't need to worry about it if they don't want to. The basis of this comes from The Book of Doctrine and Covenants Section 132.

"4. For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory."

What are ways that members of the Church can reject a covenant marriage? One way would be to not enter it, another way is to not honor the covenant marriage between the husband and wife. However how would other members of the Church reject a covenant marriage? Could it be by not honoring the memory of that covenant marriage when the spouse has died? Should members of the Church treat the widowed member as if the covenant marriage no longer exists? I don't want to be harsh about this, but those who have recently lost their spouses need a confirmation of the eternal promise of their marriages, not to be told that their marriage no longer counts in the eyes of the Church.

More from D&C 132:

"19. And again, verily I say unto you, if a man amarry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and beverlasting covenant, and it is csealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of dpromise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the ekeys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit fthrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s gBook of Life, that he shall commit no hmurder whereby to shed innocent iblood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their jexaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the kseeds forever and ever."

I can testify that I know the Lord honors these covenant marriages. Members of the Church need to honor them as well. It should be at the widowed member's discretion if and when they will participate in the singles program of the Church.

Another way to look at this comes from the April 2009 General Conference, from the address titled Temple Worship: The Source of Strength and Power in Times of Need By Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

"Fourteen years ago the Lord decided it was not necessary for my wife to live any longer on the earth, and He took her to the other side of the veil. I confess that there are times when it is difficult not to be able to turn and talk to her, but I do not complain. The Lord has allowed me, at important moments in my life, to feel her influence through the veil.

What I am trying to teach is that when we keep the temple covenants we have made and when we live righteously in order to maintain the blessings promised by those ordinances, then come what may, we have no reason to worry or to feel despondent.

I know that I will have the privilege of being with that beautiful wife, whom I love with all my heart, and with those children who are with her on the other side of the veil because of the ordinances that are performed in the temple. What a blessing to have once again on the earth the sealing authority, not only for this mortal life but for the eternities. I am grateful that the Lord has restored His gospel in its fulness, including the ordinances that are required for us to be happy in the world and to live everlastingly happy lives in the hereafter."

The singles program, while a nice way to meet new people, is not designed to meet the needs of widowed members, but was rather designed to assist in introducing people in hopes of single members of the Church getting married.

Now, here is where reality hits. Given the limits on widows who want to marry again, are they doomed to never marry if widowers only prefer eternal marriages (meaning the widows are out of luck unless they cancel their sealings)?

What are your thoughts?

My thoughts are, again, it's between the widower and the Lord whether he marries again, and marries for time only or for eternity. I will also say, however, that if a man feels the only woman worth marrying is one he can marry for eternity, he is selling himself short, as well as selling short any potential bride the Lord may have in mind.

As for me, yes, I would like to marry again, for time only. Decker and I have an eternal future together, but right now it's been put on hold for his Heavenly mission. I know he wants me to be happy, and spending earthly time with someone else is a part of that equation. When Decker passed away I was a month shy of 34 years old. I'm 42, almost 43, years old now, so I'm a little more hopeful of meeting someone to spend the rest of mortality with. In the meantime, I am trying to make some new friends regardless of whether something more comes out of it or not.

Have I felt that feeling of "doom", though? Yes, I have. I would be lying to say I haven't, and yes, tears have been shed over that feeling. The widows are at a disadvantage as far as marrying again, but, it seems to me, to have been a protecting agent against unscrupulous suitors.

One of my good friends and former visiting teachers is a widow buddy of mine, and she was widowed younger than I. After her husband died, with one small daughter and another on the way, she was told by her Bishop that she needed to marry again. Being the good girl that she is, she followed his advice and married again. Less than 6 months into this marriage, he was complaining that she was still focused on her late husband (well, she was still grieving when she married again), drained her savings account of the life insurance money and took off and left her. She had two small daughters and $0.38 to her name when she went crying to that Bishop.

She now swears she will never marry again after that, and I can't blame her for her feelings.

Marrying Again

This entry should be a reminder to any LDS Church leadership reading this, and hopefully will provide some information for newly widowed members of the Church. If there is an error with any of this please let me know, but a most of the information I have on this I received after talking to a Temple President.

Widowed Brethren:

Widowed men in the Church can marry again, and have the choice of marrying for time and eternity in the Temple or they can marry for time only in the Temple.

To marry again for time and eternity both the man and woman must be worthy to enter and participate in Temple ordinances, and the woman must have never been married or has had any sealings from a previous marriage canceled by the appropriate authority.

To marry again for time only both the man and woman must be worthy to enter and participate in Temple ordinances, and the woman must be widowed and sealed to her deceased spouse.

Widowed Sisters:

Widowed sisters in the Church who are sealed to their deceased husbands can only marry for time only. This is scripturally based upon the Kingdom of God being a through a Patriarchal Line. Widowed sisters can marry for time only in the Temple, however the groom must be widowed as well. Divorced or never married men cannot marry for time only in the Temple.

Widowed sisters can marry for time only outside of the Temple with no limits to the groom's marital status, or membership in the Church.

The only exception to all of this is if the widow cancels the sealed marriage to her deceased husband. There are reasons why some sisters have chosen to do this, however it is extremely individualistic and will only be done with the Lord's blessing via the Church Leadership in Salt Lake.

This is probably worded better in the Church's Handbook of Instructions, in the section for the Bishop. If you have questions about this, speak with your Bishop or Branch President and have them look it up, or you can talk to the President of your local Temple if he is willing to discuss this with you.

Welcome To The Widowed Connection

This blog has been something I've been wanting to do for some time. It's an extension of pages from my personal web site I created shortly after the death of my husband, Decker. I found that while the singles program of the LDS Church is a wonderful way to meet friends, it was never designed to meet the needs of widowed members going through the grieving process.

Here is the link to my personal web site: The Widowed Connection

There is a lot of information I will be covering on this, but it may take a little while to squeeze the time in for blogging. If there is a topic you would like to see covered, or have a blog of your own that pertains to this subject, please contact me.

Welcome To The Widowed Connection

Welcome to the Widowed Connection, where widowed members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can read and share in this blog.