A Bunch of Ormonds

through the windowIt’s early Sunday morning and I’m sitting at my kitchen table, surrounded by a crazy disarray of packed boxes and bags.  I look out into my backyard and remember seeing some of what I’ll share with you today but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.  Before I dive into the substance of this post, I need to give you a little taste of my family history and some of my own personal history.

Throughout this post, there may be terms you are unfamiliar with.  I have tried to define these terms as I go; so, if you see a word underlined with blue dots, just hover your mouse over it for the definition.

My family have been members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS, the Mormons) since 1834 on my mother’s side of the family and since 1840 on my father’s side.  To say I grew up Mormon and that’s why I consider myself a Mormon would be easy to do and very understandable.  At 15, however, I decided that the Book of Mormon was teaching me something that simply could not be true and tossed 152 years of family history out with it or, at least, I tried to do that.  Over the next four years I was taught little by little that what I thought simply could not be true actually contained a truth more amazing than I could have ever imagined but that is another story.  Because I know that singular truth, I was sealed to my wife and have remained true to my faith in Jesus Christ and in his prophets and apostles ever since.

Well, that is enough backstory so let’s return to me sitting at the kitchen table, now listening to the sounds of the neighborhood chickens and multiple song birds greeting the day.  Today my family will attend a new ward.  We have lived in this ward for 20 years and three of my four children were born here.  We often talk about our ward family and that really is the case:  Many members of this ward are relatives of my wife but this ward has a wonderful habit of adopting new members and calling them family.  My oldest son used to call anyone with white hair Grandma or Grandpa and for good reason.

Today, my family will attend a new ward and they are very anxious about it.  Will we be accepted?  Will we be loved?  My oldest son will be attending a singles ward, it is a big step toward living on his own.  He’s excited and nervous and I don’t know if I want to let him go.  My oldest daughter was my first child born in this ward.  She has lived here longer than any of her peers.  She’s always been on the welcoming side of the equation and she’s leaving life long friends here and hoping to not only maintain those friendships but forge new ones.  Like his older sister, my second son was born here.  She’s 17 and he’s 16, teenage angst is wreaking havoc with both of them as well.  She is leaving a sorority of many sisters and he is leaving the band of brothers that has lifted him up during some of his darkest times.  Of all my children, he is the one who wants to move the very least.  My second daughter and youngest child has always been a bit of a square peg in a round hole.  Where her older siblings have been outgoing, she has always been withdrawn and shy.  Where my older children are anxious, nervous and somewhat excited, she is filled with dread but also a bit of determination to meet this new experience on her terms.

monkeysMormons are a curious lot.  We profess to believe in ongoing revelation and, even more importantly, personal revelation but we often seem to ignore that and live very mundane lives, unconnected to heaven.  Four times that I have experienced such revelation dealt directly with each of my four children.  I knew their gender before each was born and before we had the ultrasounds that confirmed what I already knew.  While cooking a whole chicken for chicken noodle soup I saw a little boy run by me into the front room.  He looked just like me.  I knew he was my grandson and he had run into the front room to his father, who also looked just like me.  My wife was about a month pregnant.  I found it puzzling that my grandson was the main point of this vision and not my son but that later made perfect sense as we learned of his autism, Jonathan doesn’t like to be center stage but he does look just like me.  The next vision was of my daughter, it was actually a repeat of one from years previous when I had seen myself talking with a girl who had strawberry colored hair as we sat in front of a wall of books.  She came out with brown hair but she did have an immediate love for books.  Since then, McKenna has dyed her hair many colors and it’s the red she loves most.  Our third child came with both a warning label and a promise.  My vision of him was Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn swirled into one boy, the ultimate in cleverness, mischievousness and luck.  The promise was that, like Aaron of old, he might stray into darkness but would always return to the light.  My wife and I thought this might mean George would be our prodigal son but more and more I see this as a ray of sunlight in the darkness of his depression.

This brings me to my youngest child, Jillian.  I was sitting in this same place when my vision of Jillian came, I looked out the window and saw her.  She was a teenager, dressed in a white gown, a wreath of delicate white flowers circled her head and she carried a bouquet of white flowers.  I could see her face clearly, the same face she has today.  She was laughing as she jumped and splashed in the rain, mud smeared on her face and spattering her dress.  She would be my muddy elven princess.  She is the reason for my sitting to write this morning and for some of the crazy events which will happen later today, square peg for a round hole.

I tell you all of this because I love my children almost as much as I love my precious wife.  I tell you this so you will know that I have known my children in intimate detail long before they were born.  I tell you this as evidence that God knew my children as they are now and will be and he knew I would need to see each of them before they were born.  He knew I would need the comfort and promise of those four visions to be the father these four need.  Are there living prophets today?  Absolutely and within the limits of my family, I am one.  The five most important events in the history of my family have all been shown to me in vision long before they happened.

Jillian is 12 now, her birthday was in January and that was when she told us that she is gay.  The barrage of emotions that played through me over the next 24 hours was confusing and painfulsparkle monkey and then a quiet voice, not my own, asked “Twenty-four hours ago you did not know this about Jillian and you loved her.  She is the same Jillian now as she was then; so, what has really changed?”  Nothing, I answered and peace filled me.  With her permission, my wife and I talked with our bishop and shared what Jillian had told us.  We also shared our concern that some members of the ward might not be accepting of her if they learned that she is a sparkle monkey.  What he said next still sounds loudly in my heart, “Outside of your home, church should be the safest place for Jillian.”  Later he said, “Heavenly Father and the Savior knew this about your daughter long before she did.”  Our ward family, whether they have known that Jillian sparkles or not, has always loved my baby girl.  She has always been safe in their company.

We are attending a new ward today and my sparkle monkey was filled with dread at the thought.  She doesn’t wear dresses except on very rare occasions and then only with reluctance.  She prefers to wear a suit and tie, especially bow ties.  Will this new ward love my sparkle monkey?  My wife, Shanna, being the loving mom she is asked Jillian if she would be more comfortable going to the new ward if she too wore pants.  Jillian beamed at the idea and when I learned of the plan, I wholeheartedly approved and immediately offered to join them in my own fashion.

We’re not trying to test the new ward, we’re not trying to make some earth shattering statement.  We simply want our baby girl and all our children to know that, no matter what, she is and they are all safe and loved among that crazy bunch known as the Ormonds.

Jai Bhagwan

I’ll share more about what I’ve learned in the last four months since Jillian’s birthday over the next few weeks.  This post, however, is quite long enough already!