LDS Singles

Thriving and Growing as an LDS Single

from the Mormon Channel: A Conversation with Elder Dallin H. Oaks and his wife, Kristen

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This “Conversation” between Sheri Dew and Elder and Sister Oaks on the Mormon Channel had so much good stuff for singles in it that I thought it a great idea to share it. I’ve had some extra down time while not feeling well this week, so I was also able to give a rough outline of what the broadcast contains. Content that is particularly applicable to singles is italicized and in bold. I highly recommend listening to the whole thing if you can.

If you weren’t already aware, Sister Kristen McMain Oaks is Elder Oaks’ second wife (his first wife passed away) and Kristen was single until she was in her 50’s, so she has a lot to say about being single. She also has her own blog called “My Home Can Be a Holy Place.” 

0:00 Introduction
4:30 Elder Oaks on his mother
8:50 Kristen on her early days: convert to the church, going to primary with her friends
11:15 Elder Oaks on “work first, play later” and his work ethic; what he does in his free time
Kristen on Elder Oaks’ “projects” and togetherness
Elder Oaks’ mother again, on what he learned from her about women and motherhood. “Women can do anything that men can do.”
14:35 Kristen Oaks on marrying Elder Oaks and becoming a part of his large family, and what she’s learned in the ten years of being married to an apostle.
15:35 Kristen on remaining single longer than “normal.” Also, advice to people who are in circumstances not of their choosing.
“The waiting is really sanctifying.”
Challenges are sanctifying (Sister Dew)
17:50 Elder Oaks on losing a spouse and healing
1. sure knowledge of resurrection
2. I had peace that I had done everything I could for my wife (in a medical way, Priesthood blessings etc.)
3. I had been true to my covenants
Also, he wrote a history of his wife’s life. Took him about a year. Helped him process his grief and helped him heal. Helped bring the family together more.
20:00 comments on Elder Oaks’ address on divorce and marriage
How to avoid marrying the wrong person, time in courtship, time seeing them in different situations
Kristen and Elder Oaks on marriage and their courtship
23:00 increasing challenges of getting married
Excerpt and comments on Classic CES fireside from Elder Oaks on hanging out
Simple, inexpensive, and frequent dates
Women: don’t encourage “freeloaders”
To go on a date is not implying a continuing commitment
Letters Elder Oaks has received since that address
27:25 more on dating
Men frightened of young women’s accomplishments
Shy young men
Advice to Jenny Oaks Baker from Marjorie Hinckley
32:15 Elder Oaks’ law school days and what drew him to the law
Foundation the law has given him
34:00 Sister Dew on Elder Oaks’ ability to speak with boldness
Kristen Oaks: he’s very exact in his speech but he’s also tender; she’s also grateful for how he follows the Savior. Elder Oaks: worried to do what is right and not to please other people, and to do it as well as it could be done by me.
39:00 on Elder Oaks becoming President of BYU at age 38, what he learned from the experience, learning from Belle Spafford and other church leaders at the time
42:10 address in 2009 at BYU Idaho on Religious Liberty
45:25 Kristen on some of the criticism received because of that address, and what she learned from it about the Lord wanting us to be truthful, how criticism is hard for her (she was very honest about this)
47:00 the global nature of communication and how it affects Elder Oaks’ remarks
48:50 pervasive nature of pornography, address in General Conference in April 2005;
Counsel for parents, “soft” pornography, counsel for everyone in general, comparison of viewing pornography to smashing a compass while on a ship, love your kids and talk with them, having family dinner together and other “simple” solutions
56:00 “Good, better, best” in terms of family relationships
Bear your testimony to your kids/grandkids. Give kids of yourself.
1:02:20 Marriage and counsel for couples when there are rough spots on the road
Same goals, totally united on where they want to go and what they want to accomplish. Able to tolerate each other on different styles of doing things. They have separate bank accounts and their own toothpaste tubes. Fought about how to rake the leaves, but never fought on the Word of Wisdom. Pray on their knees morning and night. Heavenly Father same foundation, same direction, be flexible about other things than aren’t important.
1:04:58 Advice for those who have busy spouses; on looking past busyness and finding the joy
1:07:00 Advice on studying the Gospel
1:08:45 Moments, experiences, patterns that helped them in the development of their testimony
Testimony and tithing
1:10:50 Elder Oaks: what does it mean to speak for the Lord? (and immense responsibility, the single greatest worry he has, heavy burden, very intense process)
1:14:30 On the time the Oaks spent in the Philippines; how it changed their thinking on the Church in the developing world, which is half the world
1:23:00 The role that women play in the Church
1:26:15 What it means to be an Apostle to the Lord Jesus Christ
1:27:46 On members of the LDS Church being Christian, and how to respond when someone thinks we’re not
1:29:30 What is the one thing you would like to be sure everyone knows about your husband (Elder Oaks), and for Elder Oaks, about your wife Kristen
1:31:00 Parting feelings about the Lord and His Gospel


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Recognizing the Spirit: a Story

candy ring1Recognizing the Spirit while dating: dare I even go there? What a complicated subject! I am going to attempt a couple of posts on it. It may not be that bad when we go with the basics we’ve already learned, and then apply them to our dating lives.

This story comes from my friends Jennifer and Parker, who are on their second marriage. I’ve shared stories from them before because they’re both masterful storytellers. This one comes from Jennifer. They’ve been married a few years now and have six children (four boys and two girls) between them from their first marriage (almost exactly like the Brady Bunch).

Jennifer:

When I decided to begin dating as a 33 year old divorced mom of 4, I knew things would be different than dating as a 19 year old college student. I was looking for physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, and familial compatibility with a potential spouse. That may seem very specific, but I knew if I could click with a man in at least 3-4 of these categories, he was someone I should consider.

For both Parker and I, living as close to the Spirit as possible was absolutely essential as we considered who to date, and more importantly, who to involve our children with. We prayed and studied scriptures daily, magnified our callings, attended church regularly, looked for opportunities to serve (and be served), attended the temple, counseled with our bishops, and sought blessings when needed. We chose friends and activities that would help us to keep holding to the rod during a time when it is easy to feel so vulnerable, helpless, and alone.

I still don’t know if it was the Spirit initially that told me as soon as I saw Parker’s picture that he was “the one,” because I had had warm, encouraging feelings towards at least one other person I had seriously dated that didn’t work out–but I do know that the Spirit helped both of us during our dating to overcome some major fears and hang ups we had–especially dating long distance with some big life changes one or the other of us would have to make in order for us to be together.

I think one of the biggest moments for us was a sort of “Liahona moment” we had when out for a walk one evening. We were both feeling very drawn to one another–(for my part, totally compatible in all the categories I mentioned before) but Parker was scared as to whether or not asking my children and I to move and being able to provide for such a large family (6 combined kids) would be a wise choice, and just scared in general. Based on a few bad past relationships, I was looking for some type of a commitment from him, even if it was just declaring that we wouldn’t date anyone else. It was hard to leave him for 3-4 weeks at a time and go back to Idaho and kind of worry about all the other girls I knew were trying to get his attention. Anyway, as we were out walking that night–Parker just happened to find a little flashlight on the sidewalk someone had dropped. He clicked it on and it worked. We didn’t think much about it until I also found a gold bubble gum machine ring someone had dropped. We laughed, but also felt very sober towards the fact that he had found his “light” and direction, and I had found a symbol of commitment. We still keep these two objects on the dresser in our bedroom to remind us that the Lord very much meant for us to be together. As we continued to date and counsel and attend the temple together, we just knew that we could overcome any trial or hardship together. Despite a lot of difficulties in getting us together and in adjusting to a new life in a new state in a new family situation, the peace from the Spirit was stronger than any outside trial.

torch-2007_640


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Who Are the Singles in Your Neighborhood?

Blog FH photosWhen I was growing up, I was well aware of the singles in the church. My Dad had been the “ripe old” age of 31 when he met and married my schoolteacher Mom, who was 25. They were “ancient” by the standards of 1960. My Dad had served an LDS mission to Canada, come home and volunteered for the Air Force for the Korean War (and received a “Dear John” letter in the process), then inexplicably graduated from the University of Utah as a fraternity president without getting married; despite what my aunts and uncles described to me as a healthy social life and even a few dates with a granddaughter of the President of the LDS Church at the time. 1567

When my Mom passed away in 1980, my Dad then married my Step Mom, who was also considered an “older” single at the age of 28. My parents were aware of what it felt like to be single in a church filled with families and talk of families. We had the “older” singles over for Thanksgiving and Sunday dinners on more than one occasion, and my Dad would invite his LDS, BYU grad bachelors from work over for dinner too. They were real people to me who had interests and family in other places and wishes for the future.

So, as an “older” and divorced single, recently when I read this excellent article by blogger Katie Bastian in the Deseret News, I did what every good singles blogger would do and (oh no!!) read the comments section. Some of the comments disturbed me. **This blog post is a gentle reminder that marrieds can sometimes develop a sort of amnesia as to what it was like to be single.** Singles, feel free to send ward members here who may be experiencing said amnesia. Or, perhaps, send a link to this page to some of those  “scary posters.” My attempt is to try to be patient and civil, since after all, we are all still trying to figure this all out. This may be a meager attempt at putting my two cents in, but I felt like I needed to try something.Heawon

The photos here are of friends of mine, all singles, most of them over 40. I also included photos of their parents or grandparents or old photos with friends. They’re good members of the church who serve well in their callings and have been there for me in many a time of need. One of them taught what my teenage son said was “the best Sunday School lesson I’ve ever had.” (My son can be a tough customer. He’s a freshman at an Ivy League school now.) The same friend was my kids’ favorite person to get candy from at the church’s Trunk or Treat, as he served it out of a real hearse with the license plate “LDSGOTH.” Paul Halloween

I kept thinking of family history while contemplating this post. All singles have ancestors, the same as the married folk do. And lest you be tempted to quote Elder Hales from today’s Saturday afternoon session of General Conference and wonder why older singles “played through their 20’s,” remember that that quote was for the singles. Excellent, excellent advice. Elder Hales came and spoke to the “Midsingles” in Los Angeles when I was living there. But, if you’re not single, it’s not your job to try and figure out which singles ended up single “because it’s their fault” and they played too much. Let the Lord make that judgment. Make friends with the singles in your ward today and let the Lord and the individual worry about that. It’s not your stewardship, no matter how well-meaning you may be. 

Tracy and mom

These are the singles in your ward: brother, sister, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, mechanic, engineer, teacher, student, co-worker, visiting teacher, home teacher, babysitter, piano player, artist, doodler, volunteer Little League Umpire….  And for some, “mother, father” rather than “Single Mom! Single Dad!”

And family history? Do you think our ancestors care only for their progeny who have had children? I highly doubt that. They are on the other side, cheering all of us on.

The photos are from four friends: one works in insurance, one is a librarian at an inner city library, one a mathematician with a famous scientist for a grandfather, and an office services coordinator who loves to take care of ward beach parties. Their favorite hymns are Our Savior’s Love, The Spirit of God, Nearer My God to Thee, and I Stand All Amazed, respectively.

Collage-individuals


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The Price of a First Kiss, and a Short Poll

big bang kissFirst of all, people can be so judgmental.

How often have you noticed people making comments on a news story or article when it’s obvious they haven’t even read the article first? Or even the first few lines of it? That seems to be the case with this article as well.  Big surprise.

This article comes from Doug Robinson in the Deseret News and is talked about in this opinion piece in LDS Living as well.

A mother jokingly offered her kids $10,000 to make it to their 18th birthday without kissing anyone. She was surprised when they expressed interest in the idea, and so far two of her kids have both earned the $10,000.

We won’t go into whether or not I was in the “VL” (or “Virgin Lips”) club when I turned 18, although I will say that I wish my parents had done this so that I could have cashed in.  However, they helped pay for both college and my mission, and they’re helping me out a great deal with my health issues in my adulthood, so I have no reason to wish further. My own two kids are in this age range, as one is 12 and the other 16.  My 16 year old has a girlfriend who I think is a sweetheart.

I reviewed a great book called How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk Avoid Jerk that talks about the benefits, even for adults, of waiting to kiss someone until several months into a relationship, which has garnered somewhat strong opinions from a few friends of mine when we’ve discuss the idea.

What do you think? How long do you wait until you kiss someone that you’re dating? Do you think this mother, quite by accident, stumbled on a good idea? It seems as though, at least, her two oldest kids think so. I’d love to hear your opinions, whether for or against.

And a couple questions for you:

 

 

Photo by Eric Molina on Flickr

Photo by Eric Molina on Flickr

This is another plug for a fellow blogger on WordPress, the James Cruise Ministries Blog.  He has excellent, frequent, short and inspiring bits of advice for single parents.  (And he posts more frequently than I do!) He also has an excellent blogroll of helpful links for those going through divorce, single parenting, step parenting, etc.

And a few examples of his posts:

Grief and Your Children, Part I

Grieving and Healing 

Crunching Time

Here is a little about James. He’s been there, so he knows what he’s talking about:

Who I Am 

My life was changed forever during my 26th birthday party when my father, mother and one of my younger brothers were murdered by my youngest brother.  Fourteen years later tragedy again invaded my life.  My life was again changed forever when my beloved wife of 12 years was killed in an automobile accident, while my three young children, ages 11, 9, and 5 were severely injured.  I raised a daughter and two sons as a single-parent dad for over fifteen years.  After more than fifteen years as a widower and single parent, my life was once again changed forever.  I was given a second chance at love and chose to marry again.  My wife and I are pursuing the challenges that step-families face, desiring to live out God’s plan for our family.

My Story

My story is one of facing death and grief straight in the eye.  My story is how I learned to cope with tragedy and move through these devastating life-altering events.  My prayer is that my story will encourage and inspire others who may have experienced or are experiencing life-altering events in their lives.

 Ministry Vision

My desire is to honor God as I share the lessons I have learned about grieving the loss of loved ones, raising my children as a single—parent dad, facing the reality of my own death, the rewards and challenges of developing a successful step-family, and the art of reinventing myself after each of these life-altering events.

 

Following Christ,

James Cruise


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Recommended Book

I highly recommend this blog to single parents, especially if you’ve recently become single/divorced. However, it also has good tips for those of us who have been divorced for a while. He’s a Christian minister who regularly posts short and concise but helpful tips. This one is a book recommendation. I haven’t read it, but I remember that during the early years of my separation and divorce, learning to handle well what the author calls “The Switching Hour” being crucial for the well being of my kids during what was a very difficult time for them. It’s still a skill that I need to pay attention to, even though my divorce was almost nine years ago. (yikes)

JAMES CRUISE Ministries Blog

“The Switching Hour” by Evon O. Flesberg

The Switching Hour is the time both hoped for and dreaded, when children go from one world to another as they shuttle between divorced parents.

Some 20 million children in the U.S. are shuttled between divorced parents. At each change, at each “switch” of location, children confront burdens and fears visible only to themselves. In this practical book, Dr. Flesberg reveals those burdens and fears to the parents, grandparents, teachers, and counselors who wish to help. Volney P. Gay Ph.D., VanderbiltUniversity

This book is endorsed by Linda Ranson Jacobs, Executive Director of DivorceCare for Kids

The switching hour

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Two great parenting articles from LDS Living

Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, or have no children, if you haven’t yet subscribed to LDS Living‘s e-mails, just do it! They have lots of LDS news from around the world, links to newspaper articles from around the world about members of the Church, and articles about child-rearing, being single, finances, Sunday School, primary, FHE lessons, and more.  You can also subscribe to them on Facebook, but I feel like I get more information from their e-mails.  I like both, though.

So today’s “pass-along” advice is for parents.

 “10 Ways to End the Chore War

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And “Help Your Kids Keep the Sabbath Day Holy

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By User:Vmenkov (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons