The time had finally arrived. I had made it! My dream of six years had at last come true.

First grade!  What could be more awesome?

The year wore on without a hitch. Everything was perfect. After all, I was on top of the pile. I was accepted by my peers as one of the “neat kids”.

And why shouldn’t I be? I was top of class. I was the smallest little squiggle on the playground, and I could run the fastest. Little kids were really “in” that year. I had won every marshmallow pie so far for finishing my workbooks first. I was from a good family with a good name—way better name than most students.

Whoopee, life was great!

Today was Valentine’s Day. My teacher, beloved Mrs. G, had us busy making clever heart-shaped cards for each other. I thought mine were the prettiest—much nicer than those of the slow, unattractive girl in the corner.

Carmen was her name. Carmen, the gawky girl with big sunken eyes and drooping shoulders. Carmen, whose last name was the worst in town. Carmen, who was looked down upon by all the other kids in the class. Some called her “ape face”, and once during recess, a sixth-grade boy even spat on her.

But she deserved those things, didn’t she?  After all, she wore ugly clothes and shoes with holes. Her face was plain. Her hair was poker straight, not curly like mine. She didn’t even have freckles. Freckles were cool, and they were “in”.

Sure, deep down, I felt sorry for Carmen. But I couldn’t let my classmates see that I felt pity. I had a reputation to maintain.

I watched Carmen from my desk, and my curiosity got the best of me. As inconspicuously as possible, I wandered by to see what she was doing. She was making a heart card. I watched as she painstakingly glued a spiked border around the awkward mass of paper and glue.

“Ridiculous,” I thought. “Green and orange together? Everyone knows you don’t put green and orange together.”

I thought of my beautiful pink, blue, and lavender creations sparkling with silvery glitter and labeled neatly with even lettering. This girl was a poor excuse for humanity. Surely, God must not love her as much as He loved me to put her in a family with no looks or talent.

Carmen looked up at me. Her watery brown eyes were sad and empty. But I could see a slight sparkle there as though she hoped for an expression of approval from me. Something mean and snarly awakened from the little girl monster child deep within me that should never have come alive. Pointing to her green and orange Valentine, I said it coldly and bluntly.

“It’s ugly.  So are you.”

The small sparkle in Carmen’s eyes vanished. She winced slightly, and her eyes dulled. I could see that her soul was deeply wounded. I shall never forget her expression. It is as clear to me now as it was then. It was as though I had struck with a knife, yet she absorbed the blow without fear or malice. Those bottomless brown eyes seemed aged and worn as she simply looked at me, and looked at me, and looked at me.

What seemed to be several minutes was actually only moments, but I was affected, and oh, how deeply. Guilt and shame swept over me. At that moment, my wretched sensitive little heart was permanently scarred with tortuous regret. I managed a small giggle for the benefit of my classmates looking on, and stumbled back to my desk.

Why, oh why, did I say it? If only I could call back those words. But they had flown like time from my grasp and could never be recalled. My heart ached and my soul begged for the mercy of forgiveness, but I couldn’t ask for it. The others would know. They would know.

I spent the remainder of the day in soberness.  My usual carefree heart was shadowed with guilt, and my moments of laughter were cut short, stabbed with remembrance of my sin.

The following day was a party day. I should have been excited. Mrs. G was handing out our gift boxes filled with candy and cookies and heart cards from our friends. My name was called, and I received my box bursting with gifts from my many friends. Without much interest, I glanced over each card and set it aside.

Then I saw it on the bottom of the pile—the green and orange heart!

My heartbeat accelerated, and my hands trembled. A tremendous lump formed in my throat. I opened the card and read.

Dear Margret.

Yew are smart. yew are nise. i lik yew

Lov Carmen

I cried. Oh, how I suffered. I cried and cried. I had to leave the classroom. I cried some more. Mrs. G wanted to help, but I couldn’t explain. The eyes of the class were upon me. They might find out I was soft. I discovered the weight of the world at six years old.

I carried the burden of that green and orange heart for fifteen years. Then one day, at the age of twenty-one, I apologized. It was easy to ask forgiveness from Carmen. She and I had been friends for years, and we could almost laugh over it now. I wish I had apologized sooner. How important it is to overcome one’s foolish pride.

We are all God’s children. He is no respecter of persons. We are all striving to become all that we can be, but each one of us is traveling at our own pace. How futile it is to compare ourselves to one another. How silly we must sometimes appear to our Great Creator as we clamber over each other, scrambling up that ridiculous pedestal of pride that we go to such great lengths to construct for ourselves.

That seemingly desirable ascension is nothing more than ghost froth, the foolish illusion of personal accomplishment, as we trample upon the ruins of our neighbor’s character. How we deceive ourselves by thinking that to rise above another is our well-deserved premium real estate, when it is nothing more than a false and fated height of pride and prejudice, reached by looking down our noses at those we presume to be less wise and wonderful than ourselves.

If ever you are tempted to blurt out mean and hurtful words to snub someone—anyone—the one with the unpopular name; the kid with dark skin and funny hair; the one with the fat nose and short legs; the dumb boy who never gets anything right; the chubby girl whose legs talk to each other as she walks; the one we think is too young to understand; the one who lisps so badly; the one who smells so poorly;  the one whose dad had a fight with mine; the one who wears such weird clothes; the one who talks too much; the one who never speaks; the one who always gets in trouble; the one who is always well-behaved; the one who can’t bat the ball past the pitcher; the one who can’t carry a tune in a dumpster, let alone a bucket…

THINK AGAIN!!

How terrible regret is. How thankful I am for repentance. If ever you are tempted to think that maybe mean and ugly words hidden under the guise of sarcasm won’t bother the other kid or hurt yourself, come and find me. I will personally describe to you the tremendously deep feelings of a six-year-old little squiggle who learned a most valuable lesson from a Christ-like friend and a green and orange heart.

In the old days, they always said, “Ladies before Gentlemen.” These days…well…times have changed. Is it Ladies before Gentlemen, or is it Dudes before Broads?

Which should it be? It depends on who you ask.

A couple years ago when I first started solo truck driving, one day I pulled into a Receiver and parked by another female trucker.

“Hey! Another Lady Trucker,” I said cheerily.

Uh oh. Shift. Reverse. My friendly greeting was perceived as an insult.

“Don’t call ME a lady,” the creature roared. “Hell, I ain’t no lady and proud of it.”

“I could hardly tell,” I tittered.

“Don’t get me wrong,” the woman barked. “I love men, but they are useless. I’m a bad arse, and clear full of sheeee-it.”

Okay, fine. Up went her window, and up went mine. Each to her own. Oh, gracious womanhood, where hast thou vamoosed?

Way back three years ago when I first started trucking, a female trainer whom I shall call Big Belle informed me in extra colorful language, “Now, Maggie, you HAVE to learn to flip birds and say the F word all day. There ain’t no way you’ll survive out there unless you fight for every inch. Those F’n men and their F’n trucks will get in your F’n way.”

I couldn’t help smirking at her “tough gal” bravado since she looked for all the world like Fat Broad with her club looking for unsuspecting snakes.

I replied, “My friend, I am convinced I can get further faster if I behave like a lady. Just because I work like a man doesn’t mean I have to look like a man or act like a man.”

That has proven to be true. I get along just fine and I don’t have to flip birds or say the F word. If I ever have breakdowns on the Road, there is no shortage of gentlemen truckers who are kind and respectful and willing to help a lady.

Once in a great while, I meet a grizzled old surly Super Trucker with long past dead chivalry.

Last week I pulled into a Petro truck stop for fuel. Judging by the overcrowded lanes at every pump, you would have thought we were in line for hot dogs and Buds at the Super Bowl.

I saw one fuel lane at the far end opening up as a truck departed, so I swung in and parked. As I did so, I noticed out of the corner of my eye, a cool dude driver waving his arms and running towards his truck which was parked off to the side. I didn’t think much of it until said driver descended upon me a few minutes later and shook his fist in my face.

My fuel pumped cheerfully as the man hollered.”How dare you PIG in front of me? You are the rudest woman I’ve ever met. Can’t you see I was in line waiting to fuel? That is unforgivable of you to just drive in there like you own the place when the rest of us have to wait in line!”

My keyboard is rather sensitive so I refrain from typing out the rest of his explicit language which largely favored the letter F and the consonant combinations SH.

I was so shocked, I probably stood there gaping like a guppy. My momentary paralysis soon resolved into barely concealed mirth because there’s something about the sight of a full-grown man jumping up and down and shouting cuss words like a maniac that never fails to bring on the giggles.

“You’re absolutely right,” I agreed between chortles. “Totally unforgivable of me to not behave like a gentleman. Heaven forbid that a lady should go first. Would you like me to shift this here pump in reverse and siphon that fuel out of my truck and put it back into the ground? If you’ll get out of my way, I’ll be happy to back up and let you go first.”

The irate man shut his mouth and suddenly his shoes became more fascinating than my face. Perhaps by now he began to see the foolishness of his position. After all, he wasn’t even in his truck when I drove in. While his truck was parked off to the side waiting for an opening, he had probably run to the potty. Poor pitiful man. If only I had understood the situation before I OINKED my way in front of him.

“Listen,” I told the embarrassed UN-gentleman. “The last thing on earth I want to do is demand to go first. I have noticed that most of you cool super truckers insist on being first, and I’m fine with that. I’m in no hurry.”

“My mom would kill me,” the driver muttered.

“What did you say?” I queried.

“My mom. If she were alive, she’d hunt me down and string me up for behaving so rudely to a lady.”

“Sounds like you had a good mother,” I replied.

“I sure did,” the man mused. “I apologize for forgetting my manners. Seriously, most women are so demanding, I have turned my back on old-fashioned chivalry.”

“I can understand that,” I sympathized. “These days, it seems like everybody is in a hurry to be first. Many women get offended if men treat them special. I can understand why you’re out of practice.”

And then miraculously, that rough, rude, selfish, cool dude truck driver turned into a gentlemen. He shined up my truck mirrors and washed the windows. He asked if I wanted a tire check. He tended me and my truck like a caring big brother, and we parted as friends.

So, I have to flip birds and shout the F word to survive in a male dominated industry, huh? Not hardly. I must have been  born in the wrong century.

When men behave like gentlemen, it’s way funner behaving like a lady. Oh, gracious Womanhood. If only modern-day woman could understand the benefits of your honorable qualities.

Wait. Maybe if men would lead out in the Improvement Movement and start behaving like gentlemen, eventually…most, if not all, of the Fat Broad battleaxe women will see the benefit in putting down their weapons of war and embracing their true identity of

Princess and Queen.

Maybe. Just maybe.

I am in the habit of studying history and human nature. The most interesting creatures on earth are humans. Some of them are like beasts of prey, watching for every opportunity to pounce upon the small and unsuspecting minority. Some people are like birds, whom God has endowed with wings to swiftly carry them to safety beyond the reach of the carnivore’s teeth and lolling tongue that thirsts for blood.

Over a number of years I have watched the battle of good and evil unfold in this land of America. How I love this country which has promised freedom to its inhabitants, that freedom which has been purchased by the blood, sweat, and tears of our forefathers.

I have observed with wide-eyed amazement the actions of law enforcement against a minority religious group. I have followed the never-ending antics demonstrated by the American judicial system. I have watched with interest and disgust the media mudslinging between politicians. Especially, as I reflect upon the unbelievable misrepresentation portrayed by modern day media against innocent and honest American citizens, a story comes to mind.

Over two thousand years ago, after Israel had been carried off to Babylon by the great conqueror King Nebuchadnezzar, over a period of fifty years, the kingdom of the Jews was scattered throughout the mighty empire of the Medes and Persians. During the third year of the reign of King Ahasuerus (Xerxes 486-465 B.C.), he called for a great feast for his princes and servants.

While merry with wine, the king sent for his wife Vashti to appear and show off her beauty before him and his nobles. Vashti refused. Ahasuerus became angry with his wife for her disobedience. His wise men counseled him to get rid of her for they feared her bad example would give all the women in the kingdom courage to disobey their husbands. Ahasuerus agreed and banished Vashti from his presence. He sent out a proclamation that all men were to be honored in their households.

Ahaseurus then ordered all the young virgins in the land to appear before him so he could choose a new wife. A fourteen-year-old orphan Jewish girl named Hadassah from the tribe of Benjamin entered the king’s harem taking on the name of Esther, a Babylonian name meaning “star”.

Esther had been raised from infancy by her uncle Mordecai, who advised her to keep secret her Israelite identity. For nearly a year, Esther and hundreds more young ladies were cared for in the King’s House of Women being primed with all manner of beauty paraphernalia in preparation for the moment to be called into the king’s presence.

Finally, it came Esther’s turn. She was lovely, meek, and innocent.

And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her his queen.

Mordecai, in position of keeper at the king’s gate, continued to hover as closely as possible to Esther, whom he loved as his own daughter. He discovered a plot between two palace chamberlains against the king’s life. Mordecai sent word to Esther. She informed the king, and the two offenders were hung. Mordecai’s name was recorded in the book of chronicles as having saved the king’s life.

But there were men in high places who had cunning and evil hearts.

After these things did King Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes. And all the king’s servants, that were in the king’s gate, bowed and reverenced Haman; for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence. Then the king’s servants, which were in the king’s gate, said unto Mordecai, “Why transgresses thou the king’s commandment?”

Apparently, there was only one God to whom Mordecai paid homage. Mordecai replied that he could not bow down to Haman for it was against his religion to do so.

And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath. And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had showed him the people of Mordecai; wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai. 

And Haman said unto King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king’s laws; therefore it is not for the king’s profit to suffer them.”

Sound familiar?  If I was the king, I would be alarmed with that report—if I didn’t know better.

 Haman went on in his convincing way, “If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed; and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king’s treasuries.”

Times haven’t changed much, have they? Thirty pieces of silver (or more) is still used as barter in the ethnic cleansing agenda, the genocide racket.

 And the letters were sent by posts into all the king’s provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prey. The posts went out, being hastened by the king’s commandment, and the decree was given in Shushan the palace. And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed.  And in every province, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.

Mordecai got word to Esther about the impending doom. He told her the lives of her people were in her hands and that God had prepared her for that moment in history to deliver her people. He asked her to go to the king and reveal her identity, expose the evil plot of Haman, and plead the cause of the Jews.

That was a very dangerous thing for Esther to do. Why? Because there was a law that any person who dared to approach the king without being summoned would be put to death. Ahasuerus had been very busy and had not called for Esther for a whole month. The law of the Medes and Persians was very binding. Even the king could not reverse the law. However, there was a way around it. If the king was to hold out his golden scepter to the uninvited party, the life of the offender could be spared.

Esther knew the king loved her. But he had sent Vashti away for disobedience. Why not her? She did not know if the king loved her that much. This was a terrifying step to take.

Esther replied to Mordecai, “Go gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day; I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.”

After three days of fasting in sackcloth and ashes, Esther put on her finest robes and walked, pale and trembling, into the inner court and approached her husband, the king. When the king saw Esther standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight. Ahasuerus held out his golden scepter to her and she drew near and touched it.

The king asked, “What wilt thou, Queen Esther? and what is thy request? It shall be given thee even to the half of the kingdom.”

Some lady. He must have loved her a lot.

Esther answered, “If I have found favor in thy sight and if it please the king, come to a banquet at my palace tomorrow night and bring Haman.”

The king agreed to do so. Oh, boy, Haman was one happy peacock as he pranced home on his high horse. But then he got to the gate and saw Mordecai standing proud, unwilling to bow as usual. Grrrr. That is so frustrating when people don’t acknowledge your power and authority, isn’t it?

Haman went home and told his wife and friends all about his glory and riches and promotions. He told how he had been advanced above all the other princes and how even the queen had invited no other man but him to attend a banquet with her and the king.

But Haman was not satisfied. He said, “All this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.”

Do you know anyone like that? Have we seen people in power who can’t stand the sight of certain American citizens and are determined to drive them out or put them away out of sight? That drama is a never-ending show in the White House.

Haman’s wife Zeresh said, “My lord Haman, you don’t have to put up with that disrespectful dude, the Jew. Why don’t you just show him what happens to people who don’t uphold the law of Haman? Make a gallows fifty cubits high, and tomorrow, ask the king for permission to hang Mordecai. Then you can go to the banquet happy and free of stress from that abominable low-life Jew.”

And the thing pleased Haman; and he caused the gallows to be made.

But that very night God intervened. The king could not sleep. He commanded the book of chronicles to be opened, and he discovered that Mordecai had never been rewarded for saving his life.

The next morning Haman went to see the king to obtain permission to hang Mordecai. Before he could speak, the king asked him, “What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honor?”

Haman thought to himself, “Now who would the king want to honor so much? Me, of course. Oh, shiskkabob!  Since I know he intends to credit me for my great bigness, I will tell him of the most desirable ways of public acknowledgement that I would like for myself.”

“Oh, king, live forever,” said sly Haman with his oily tongue. “For the man whom the king delighteth to honor, have one of your most noble princes put your own royal clothes upon him, your royal crown upon his head, and set him upon your own royal horse. Then let the prince walk before him through all the streets of the city proclaiming, “This is the man whom the king delighteth to honor.”

“Great idea, Haman!” the king replied. “Make haste and take my crown and apparel just as you have suggested and put them upon Mordecai, the man at the king’s gate. YOU are the noble prince who will walk before him and honor him as he rides upon my very own horse.”

Ouch! I bet they used a combination of grapefruit rinds and alum powder to build that bitter humble pie for Haman. But it was his own great idea, and he was obliged to carry it out. When the ordeal was over, Mordecai returned to his place at the gate, no doubt smiling, and Haman hurried home covering his face in embarrassment.

Haman told his wife and all his friends how he had been shamed, and they said, “Damn, you are beginning to lose power to Mordecai. He is a Jew, and you cannot overcome him. He will certainly defeat you.”

Haman was very wroth and also very humiliated. But just then the king’s chamberlain appeared to escort him to the banquet Queen Esther had prepared for that evening.

So the king and Haman came to banquet with Esther the queen. And the king said again unto Esther on the second day at the banquet of wine, “What is thy petition, queen Esther? and it shall be granted thee; and what is thy request? and it shall be performed, even to the half of the kingdom.”

Obviously, the King thought a lot of the Queen.

Then Esther, the queen, answered and said, “If I have found favour in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request; for we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish.”

Then the king Ahasuerus answered and said unto Esther the queen,” Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?”

And Esther said, “The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman.”

Now whose turn was it to tremble?

Then Harbonah, one of the king’s chamberlains squealed on Haman. “Oh, king, Haman even went so far as to build a gallows to hang Mordecai, the very man who saved your Majesty’s life. And it’s seventy-five feet tall!”

“Hang Haman on it!” the king bellowed.

So they hauled away Haman squealing for his life, and they hanged him clear to death until he was dang dead upon the VERY SAME gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai.

Is this story starting to sound imminent? Does anyone see a parallel? Do we suspect that justice will be served eventually?

Next, the king gave Haman’s property to Esther and Mordecai. And the king’s ring with his seal, which had been retrieved from Haman’s possession was put upon Mordecai’s finger. And to Mordecai, Ahasuerus also gave Haman’s position as chief prince in the king’s presence, second only to the king in authority.

Then was the king’s wrath pacified.

Fascinating. Tell you what. Go through this story and insert a name, or names, or an organization for every character in this biblical saga of the fate of the persecutors. See what you come up with.

Hint: government officials who adjust the law to suit their own purpose as well as prosecutor’s witnesses who lie under oath to deceive the minds of judges and juries and the American public might fill in appropriately for Haman, son of Hammedatha the Agagite.

History has the dangdest habit of repeating itself.

Who cannot see that the King is not asleep, though He may seem so while the conspiracy plays on in this present day theater? History is in the making. Yes, the conspirators have prepared the gallows, and the final outcome is predictable. The King’s wrath shall be pacified.

This from an interested on-looker who can’t help but see the gross injustice handed out by mainstream media, religious dissenters, and dishonest witnesses. Who cannot see the blaring crimes of individuals in government who wield the power granted them by the people of America to shred the Constitution by creating laws to target specific religions groups and execute a personal vendetta against a minority religion?

Misunderstanding and misrepresentation runs rampant. Surely, most people would hate to be numbered among the persecutors who will eventually experience the King’s wrath.

And what shall be done unto the man whom the King delights to honor?

We shall see.

Life is Beautiful! Life is horrible?

It all depends on your perspective.

Is your glass half full or half empty? Is your holiday butter rum cake half gone, or do you still have half left over? Chances are our butter rum cake is ALL gone and we have chunkier cheeks than we did last week, us little fatties.

All jesting aside, I ask this question?

Do we have the power within ourselves to encourage ourselves?

What keeps you going? What makes you tick?

As I live and work from day to day and drive thousands of miles each week, I observe that fear is rampant in mainstream society. If you are a person, and you are alive, you know what fear is. So many circumstances affect the fear barometer. Family, friends, enemies, finances, work, play, politics, physical conditions, mental conditions, food, drugs, entertainment, religion, and lack of religion.

That big fat F word FEAR is responsible for a heap of trouble.

There is another far lovelier F word that solves the big problem that FEAR produces.

FAITH

Nearly every day I drive past terrible traffic accidents. I often remain stationary in traffic, or crawl along, waiting for the roads to clear. I’ve even destroyed a couple $1,000 tires when I followed the crowd and drove past a smash-up site that still had bits of shrapnel left on the road. Life is a gamble. Life is SCARY!

Last week a super trucker behind me got tired of driving the speed limit on a two-lane highway. As the road widened with a passing lane just as I entered a roundabout, the truck behind passed me and smashed the front end of my truck as he wheeled around the circle. That’s got to be the dumbest thing ever. One trucker trying to pass another trucker on a roundabout? Face palm. It was hit and run. I got hit, and he ran. Yep. Life is DANGEROUS!

If I allow my mind to dwell on all the bad, scary, dangerous, negative things I see and hear, I’d always be afraid. If I dwell on all the bad things that MIGHT happen, I’d live in constant fear. If I didn’t have faith, I wouldn’t dare get out of bed in the morning. If I didn’t have faith, there’s no way I would dare drive a semi-truck. Without faith, I wouldn’t be able to watch the politicians ruin the country while we let them do it. Without faith, I wouldn’t dare stick my neck out and write stuff that might make people want to hack my website and steal my leftover butter rum cake.

Faith keeps us going. Faith makes us tick.

I have faith that there is Someone far greater and wiser than me in charge of me. Not only in charge of me, but everyone else, including Donald Trump. I don’t see any good reason to fight and quarrel over the President. God has him in hand. Whatever will be, will be.

A whole bunch of loud, pompous, yammering, self-righteous people who love to point their lily white phalanges while keeping their evil eyeballs out looking for drudge in their fellow man, most of which belches forth continuously from their own dark smoky bellows, will undoubtedly be caught unaware someday to find out what God thinks about all the nonsense.

I wonder how many of us stop to think, “What does the Creator of heaven and earth think about this? What is the will of God in this matter?’

I say, “God bless the President to do the will of God. God bless you and me to do the same.”

FAITH solves problems. Faith in God gives me faith in myself. I can accomplish all good things by faith and works combined. Faith gives me peace of mind. Faith keeps me from fighting and quarreling and blaming others. Faith keeps me on the Road. Faith keeps us on the Watchtower.

Today I happened upon this quote: “The phrase ‘DO NOT BE AFRAID’ is written in the Bible 365 times.That’s a daily reminder from God to trust in Him and not give in to fear.”

That’s great advice.

Let’s trust in God

…and Keep on truckin’!

Here’s to a Happy New Year of FAITH!

 

I wrote this love song for my children and many more lovelies I call my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just published a BRAND NEW book in my SquarePeg Storybooks series.
This story is about a girl who doesn’t fit in. Try as she might, she’s just not like everyone else. Nobody wants to hire her because her image is a bit…off. But no matter how others behave, she keeps her chin up and won’t give up. What does she do?

She goes truckin’!

https://www.amazon.com/What-Will-Dilly-Do-Storybooks-ebook/dp/B082BCWMVC

I had loads of fun writing this book and working with my illustrator Filipa, a lovely young lady from Portugal. I give her TEN STARS

Get this CUTE book and write an awesome review on Amazon and Goodreads!
Profits go to creating employment opportunities for women with children.

Today is Turkey Day, the day that tradition and marketing say I must be thankful. If I am a good little Mainstreamer, I show my gratitude by wishing everyone a merry Thanksgiving and by purchasing orange and gold paraphernalia to fancy up my truck.

Since I am out trucking a long ways from home, I can benefit from the holiday by stopping at Petro or TA somewhere on the Ten to inhale a turkey dinner. They say it’s like homemade. I suspect it’s true if you are hungry enough. If you’re a trucker, you can use your fuel points to get a free meal.

I am thankful for Thanksgiving because it reminds us to be thankful. Reminders are good.

What does it mean to be thankful? I mean really, truly thankful? I’m talking about that deep down gratitude that fills the soul with something besides the succulent bird accompanied by creamy mashed potatoes dripping with butter and brown gravy.

I am reminded of an experience I had in Denver several years ago when I was blind to the hand of God in my life.  I think it was perhaps my lowest point ever.  I was feeling the weight of the world because I felt shunned and unloved. I was in sackcloth and ashes, desperately searching for myself.

Though I was swallowed up by emotion, the only thing I could do was cling to the rock solid foundation of principle. The biggest and strongest principle that forty eight years of life had taught me was to trust in God no matter the circumstance.

My trials had greatly compounded that day. I had just learned of heartbreaking situations concerning people I loved. Some were upset and angry, doing strange, hateful things, turning against their friends and family and behaving in ways that had resulted in much sorrow to all involved. Our people were scattered. Some were in prison. Misunderstanding and misrepresentation was rampant. Rumors were ugly. So much hate everywhere. My heart was terribly broken.

My personal sorrow had turned into fear. Fear did what it always does. It turned to self-pity. The result? I hit the bottom of the bottom. The bottom was a lake. I couldn’t stop crying, and the lake got deeper. I couldn’t seem to swim out or up. I was drowning in the bottomless depths of sorrow. I was unable to eat. I could only shut down at night by exhausting myself in tears until sleep overcame me.

After several days of living, or was it dying, in this agonizing state of mind, I drove to Walmart to get a few groceries. I knew I had to somehow get a grip and scrape myself out of the gutter. I had to eat something and carry on with life.

I wandered around the store as I focused on putting one foot in front of the other. Oblivious to my surroundings, I kept my heart’s eye on the heavens. I felt I could only continue to exist one moment at a time by pleading with God to forgive me and to forgive others. I petitioned Him to preserve my life and the lives of those I loved.

Life was way too big for me. The only way to cope was to hand over my burden to Someone stronger than I. Though I felt down on myself, unworthy, cast-off, and despised, I held tight to the lifeline that literally extended from the heavens to me. I had thrown the line as a last desperate attempt, and it had snagged on a cloud.

I stood in the checkout line at Walmart pretending to be normal. I shut out everything around me and focused on the constant pleadings in my heart between me and my Creator, my Father, my God, and my Best Friend. My introverted focus didn’t stop me from noticing the cashier was staring at me.

She was an elderly lady, maybe in her 60’s. She made no attempt to conceal her intense drop-mouth gaze. The last thing in the world I wanted just then was to be stared at and questioned. Since I was a prairie dress woman, I was a beacon and a billboard. Stares and questions were the everyday thing.

I was typically a congenial and friendly person. Usually, I didn’t care who stared and it didn’t bother me. Usually, I felt compassion for other humans, though it felt like we came from different worlds. I knew how it felt to be treated with indifference, and I tried to never treat others that way. I was a stranger in a strange land. It was a dark place of uncaring creatures. I felt lost in a hateful world not of my choosing.

In spite of my broken condition, personal pride prevented me from slumping my shoulders or keeping my eyes on the ground. I squared my shoulders, lifted my chin, and met the woman’s gaze. I braced myself for the inevitable comments and questions.

The salesclerk began to speak, and then it was my turn to stare.

“Don’t mind me saying this, Dear,” she said in a hushed and reverent tone. “Do you realize you have an aura of light shining all around you?”

I was so surprised I nearly fell over. Truth is, I felt like hell.

Mrs. Salesclerk went on, “Excuse me, I don’t mean to be rude, but you are literally shining. You look like an angel.”

I had been fasting for days and was very weak. I stared at the woman, uncertain what to say.

“I am no angel,” I replied softly, “but I would like to become one.”

She continued to peer at me inquisitively as she said, “I really mean it.  You look remarkable.  How do you do that? Can you explain it?”

I was so surprised and so helpless in my vulnerable state that I said nothing, but simply pointed at the sky.

“You mean you pray?” she asked.

“Yes,” I replied, “I pray.”

“But I pray too,” she insisted.  “I never get results like this.”

“Well,” I said shrugging, “you have to pray millions of prayers.”

“Really?” she asked, “you mean you never give up praying, right?”

“Right,” I replied in a whisper. “But you can’t say just any old prayer.  You have to say, ‘Thank you’.”

The woman’s eyes grew bigger. “But what if everything is going wrong?” she asked.

“That is especially when you thank God.”

“If all you have is rotten luck, what is there to thank Him for?”

“Thank Him for your rotten luck,” I replied with a weak smile. “It’s better than no luck. You say, ‘Lord, thank you for this rotten luck. Thank you for the breath of life, for the beautiful sky, for the warmth of the sun, for the birds that sing. Thank you, Lord, for this bowl of beans. Thank you for this hard experience.’”

The woman stared at me in silence and then murmured, “That is remarkable.  You are truly beautiful.”

I thanked the elderly lady for her kindness. By now I felt that she and I were kindred spirits, as though she was my mother. My mother had left the earth a few years previous, and I missed her deeply. I couldn’t help the love and care I felt for the stranger at Walmart.

I said goodbye and walked out with my purchase. At the exit, I turned to look back, and found the woman was still staring at me.

I walked to my car and looked in the mirror. Sure enough. I looked like hell. Nothing like an angel. I saw no light. Nothing looked remarkable. My eyes were red and swollen, my face pale and gaunt from days without food. To myself, I was the literal image of gloom, the deepest sorrow I had ever known, a weight I cannot describe.

As I studied my lack of light and beauty in the mirror that day, there was nothing to be done except be encouraged. A great awareness dawned upon me. It was like the rising of the sun which spread its warmth and light into all the dark places of my heart. The bottomless lake dried up, and I emerged upon the shore, safe and alive.

As I had traveled through the darkness of mortal tests, I hadn’t been able to see the Lord’s hand or His influence upon me. I had nothing to go on except faith. I had walked as seeing Him who is invisible, believing, but not knowing, that He was walking beside me.

Principle had taught me to be thankful no matter what. That day at Walmart, my loving Father showed me His presence through the eyes of a kind old woman who prayed without seeing results, just as I thought I had. I couldn’t see His protecting Light around me, but she saw it. It wasn’t that I was beautiful or covered with light. It was that His presence in me was Light, and it was beautiful. My lifeline was connected to Him through gratitude.

It was indeed a remarkable experience and served to lift me out of black despair. A spark of hope ignited which gave me the courage to just keep on keeping on.

I can never be thankful enough to my Heavenly Father for His sustaining hand through every experience of life. I can never be grateful enough for the gift of a soft heart, a thankful heart.

For the Gift, I praise the Giver.

How beautiful life becomes when we say, “Thank you, Lord.”

Today is Thanksgiving Day. How truly thankful are we? People speak of peace and love and gratitude. The world is starving for it, and no amount of pumpkin pie will feed it. Millions are drowning in that bottomless lake of grief. There is a way out, a way up.

Unconditional love begins with unconditional gratitude.

Gratitude begets peace and peace begets love. Love begets more gratitude, and more gratitude begets more peace. More peace begets more love, and it goes on and on. This ability of godliness can be found in all of us, dormant though it might be.

Discover your circle, the eternal round of love. Circles are perpetual, self-generating, and never ending. Circles of Light begin with gratitude. Genuine gratitude produces humility. Humility attracts the mercy of God and attracts godliness to us and in us.

We can’t prevent life from happening. We can’t always control events, but we CAN choose our feelings. We may not understand everything that happens in life, but we CAN understand the wonderful peace that thankfulness brings.

I believe that someday we will look back and weep to see how tenderly our Father carried us through our life on His earth that He built for us. Most of us cannot see Him, but He can always see us. Someday we will understand.

Not now but in the coming years, it may be in the better land,
We’ll read the meaning of our tears, and there, sometime, we’ll understand.
Then trust in God through all thy days; fear not, for He doth hold thy hand;
Though dark thy way, still sing and praise, sometime, sometime we’ll understand.
We’ll catch the broken threads again and finish what we here began;
Heaven will the mysteries explain, and then, ah then, we’ll understand.
We’ll know why clouds instead of sun were over many a cherished plan,
Why song has ceased when scarce begun; tis there sometime we’ll understand.
Sometime, Sometime, we’ll understand…
Why what we long for most of all eludes so oft our eager hand,
Why hopes are crushed and castles fall, yes, then sometime we’ll understand.
 God knows the way; He holds the key; He guides us with unerring hand;
Sometime with tearless eyes we’ll see; yes, then, we’ll surely understand.
Then trust in God through all thy days; have faith, for He doth hold thy hand;
When clouds are dark, still sing and smile and praise;
Our God is love; He understands.

I wonder…Do men wash their hair with battery acid?

I suspect it soaks through and eats up the brain.

Recently I parked my semi-truck at a Walmart shopping center somewhere in New Mexico and bee bopped inside to stock up on groceries. My lucky day. I didn’t know Walmart had a theater. Yep. Right there in the beef jerky aisle.

Drama, and I mean drama.

It was like deeper than deep. Deeper than the Marianas Trench. Deeper dregs than Shakespeare ever thought to think up. I watched a satirical drama of typical American protocol take place before my very eyeballs.

Seems there was this man and his wife. Wait. I think it was a broad and her man. Well…um…whatever the relationship was, it brought to mind the old adage “familiarity breeds contempt.”

Well, anyway, there were these two individuals, roughly in their mid thirties, who were apparently doing some shopping.

The woman…well, I think that’s what it was. The female portion of the pair was leading the way down the aisle.  There was something about the manner in which she walked that caught my eye. Well, I can’t really say she was walking. It was more like strutting. Clad in flamboyant colors and prancing along with a slow, deliberate air, she brought to mind the image of a peacock. That was a little confusing. I thought the flashy side of that species is supposed to be male.

But anyhow, as I was saying, there was this big gorgeous bird strutting down the aisle.

Directly following her was the husband. Or at least, he appeared to be. Well, I didn’t say he was a man, but in the absence of any other, he might be called one, perhaps.

Whew!  It’s difficult to tell this story because I struggle for appropriate words to describe a “yes man”. Despite the fact that said man was most definitely taller and broader than the woman, somehow, he looked…well…small.

Okay, well anyway, the little fellow was pushing a shopping cart piled high with his companion’s intended purchases. Planning his steps carefully, he meekly followed his militant wife as she paused here and there considering the various commodities found upon the shelves.

Occasionally, the unoffensive little husband paused and glanced at his voluptuous partner to see if he was detected. If not, he ventured forth timidly to place his hand upon an item to examine it. When his commanding officer glanced up to discover his interest in the illegal contraband, he quickly snatched his hand away and returned it to his pocket.

I suppose I am guilty of stalking. But can you blame me? It was the most interesting thing I had seen all week. I guess I was a bit starved for entertainment. With nonchalant observation of modern art, I followed the couple at a discreet distance. We finally made it past the fabric department and sallied forth to electronics.

Wifey paused to study the latest iPhone covers and Hubby strayed a few feet. With great interest, I watched his expression as he wistfully stroked an electronics gadget. With a look of intense desire and a sigh of resolute determination–well, as much gump as could be expected of an individual of his caliber–he made a decision.

I made a sincere effort to control my amusement. Honest, cross my heart I did. It took concentration for the poor man looked like a panting terrier begging for a bone.

With deep humility and remarkable submission, the big strapping scrawny mite of a fellow approached his cherished counterpart and asked in a whining, nasal tone,

“Pleeeease, Yvonne, can I have this?”

By now I was emotionally involved. I stood motionless and wide-eyed as I observed the saga unfolding. Naturally, I could not offer the poor jack my respect since he appeared to be a pasta puppet with spaghetti for backbone. But I sincerely hoped for his sake he could obtain the desire of his heart.

The face of the woman was indeed a study. Clearly she was completely annoyed with her large smaller half. I held my breath and gritted my teeth as the storm clouds rapidly gathered.

As lightening flashed and thunder crashed, the woman advanced and the man retreated.

I stood transfixed in horror as Mount Un-Saint Helena erupted for the second time this century.

“JARVIS, YOU PUT THAT BACK, NOW!!”

Hell hath no fury like a woman’s wrath…DID, in fact, come to mind. Am I exaggerating? Not much.

With fallen countenance, and was that actually a bottom lip protruding? Surely not. Ah me, yes, indeed, it was. I could have wept in shame for the downfall of modern man if it wasn’t so dang hilarious.

With typical 21st Century male meekness, the downtrodden little mountain of a man rushed to fulfill the explosive demand of she who was master.

With permission denied and the desired item safely returned to the shelf, the poor little large man resumed his appointment behind the basket.

At her “Forward, MARCH!” command, big little Jarvis meekly followed his virago to the next aisle.

And you think I’m weird?

 

Face palm.

What hath MAN becometh?

 

This is the second installment in my new children’s book series SquarePeg Storybooks soon to publish on Amazon.

What Will Dilly Do? is a tale of pluck told in rhyme. I had fun writing it, had fun imagining the characters, and had great fun working with my awesome illustrator Filipa in making the story come to life in drawings.
Though the characters are fictitious, this is actually a true story.

Seriously? You want to know what I think.

Are you sure?

I was recently contacted by a Utah journalist for a comment on the subject of suicide among FLDS and ex-FLDS. I expect my contribution was solicited in order to provide a small splash of alternate opinion to give the illusion of opposition to the overwhelming majority, about as effective as one drop of hydrogen peroxide added to an entire ocean of despair.

As I read the article, it became clear from the first sentence that the journalist was unable to remain objective in his report. As usual, he presented people and opinions to hash and rehash the usual complaint that the FLDS religion and culture is responsible for destroying people’s lives. I have noticed that this particular journalist is unable to hide prejudice. His identity page boasts something like, “I cover polygamists. I am also interested in monogamists. Me.” I don’t think anyone is convinced that his “reporting” is unbiased.

In the article, FLDS dissenters and anti-polygamy activists chimed in with the usual discontent about what they consider to be a dangerous ideology which they identify as the cause and result of the sad situation of suicide.

I find that many anti-polygamy activists are those who have never lived it. They claim that all women and children in polygamy suffer abuse. They try to represent the whole when they are not qualified to do so. Even those who may have lived plural marriage and now fight against it are not qualified to represent the whole. The haters of plurality are actually a minority. There are more satisfied people who have lived plurality than there are those who have lived it and later became dissatisfied and turned against it.

Just because people are silent doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

Having personal knowledge and experience about that so-called ideology and how it has affected the lives of many, I offer my reflections and testimony which might result in a more balanced and accurate report. If you are able to read this presentation without prejudice, you may even find a solution for the lamentable situation of suicide.

The point of this follow-up article is to bring out the things that were NOT said. Think of this as a tough love message from someone who really does care. However, if you have a defensive and accusing frame of mind, anything I say will be considered patronizing and condescending. I don’t relish offending anyone, but I am willing to take the risk in case there is anyone who may benefit from a candid, yet positive perspective.

Since FLDS religion and culture has so often been the scapegoat advertised as the cause of suffering, I offer this analogy:

What if I was to conduct an anti-mainstream crusade? I know there is much corruption, depravity, immorality, dishonesty, and abuse in the world. I make it my life’s mission to take down mainstream. I try to rescue all the innocent women and children from the horrors of modern society. How do you think that would go over?

Quite a number of celebrities from Hollywood have committed suicide. Down with Hollywood! Let’s take out the entertainment industry because it seems to have a dangerous effect on the minds of children. LOL, you say? Ha ha indeed.

Why do people listen so intently when a minority religious culture is repeatedly targeted by haters, advertised as depraved and abusive, and touted as a DANGEROUS ideology? Can you not see the paradox?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So is ugly. Oh, dear. The majority must be ugly.

Many FLDS dissenters claim they were mistreated and unloved. Let me share a truth that life has taught me. No matter how much you are loved, if you cannot recognize love and you reject love, you will forever eat, drink, think, feel, and enjoy hate. You live in that “perfect hell of happiness”. Bad feelings twist and obscure truth. Feelings are those pesky critters we like to pet and coddle and dress up to look like something else.

Concerning the various people who were quoted in the Salt Lake Tribune article on suicide, as well as some who contributed comments concerning their views and experiences among the FLDS and the challenges they faced with suicidal thoughts and/or attempts, I would like to point out that I know these people. I commend those who have been through great challenges and have overcome. But I do not agree that anyone can justify blaming their dark moments on the FLDS religion or religious leaders.

All people make mistakes. As humans, we Mormons and ex-Mormons have not lived faultless. In our youth, many of us went over Fool’s Hill and behaved like hellions. I don’t know about you, but I am mighty thankful for the gift of repentance and the opportunity to overcome and improve. I, for one, do not hold your youthful indiscretions against you just as I hope you will not hold mine against me. I hope you will not hold your past against yourself.

Without identifying anyone in particular, I give my honest report that some who were interviewed and some who added disparaging comments to Nate Carlisle’s article on suicide are former students from Alta Academy. Interesting to see that those who feel they were mistreated and unloved are the very ones who had a challenge getting their homework done, not to mention challenges with disruptive behavior. Some of the commentators are relatives and former acquaintances who had problems with obedience to reasonable rules in their homes and schools. Some engaged in questionable conduct, and some were often disrespectful to parents and teachers. Some were repeated offenders at breaking rules.

All of us have the freedom to choose our behavior, but there is always a consequence of choice.

Think of it this way. If you are part of a particular organization which requires greater self-discipline such as the Navy SEALs, Harvard, Yale, Club 33, Freemasons, or the Mennonites, Hutterites, or Amish, there is a certain set of rules, certain behaviors, a specific mindset, an ideology you must follow and strictly adhere to in order to qualify to remain in the program.

Sometimes people don’t fit in. Some choose another path. If you choose to separate from a particular organization, naturally, fraternizing will probably come to an end.

For decades we were warned that separations must come. Most often people separated themselves. Those who wanted to do stupid stuff were separated either willingly or unwillingly from those who wanted to quit doing stupid stuff.

You could not have prevented being born where you were. No sense in lamenting your birth. All of those born to FLDS members came with a birthright. Esau sold his birthright to Jacob and then blamed his brother and his father for his loss. Be honest with yourself. If you sold your birthright for a mess of pottage, enjoy the mess as much as you can. You cannot blame your loss on the source of the blessings you sold.

For many years people complained that the FLDS religion kept people in prison and chained within its walls. Now people complain that they were sent away from their religion. They claim that because they were cast out, they lost their self-worth. Which is it?

Were you chained within or chained without? Make up your mind.

We all know how spoiled apples corrupt the whole barrel. In order to protect your crop, you remove the spoiled apples, right? All of us were taught how to avoid becoming a spoiled apple. Nobody forced you to inject yourself with mold.

Did I just hear you say sheee-it? So, are you mad because you were sent away even though you were one of the very best apples? I see. Well, what are you doing right now? Are you complaining about your corrections and trials? Did you have hidden mold inside that you had no idea was there? Is it now spilling out and infecting others?

If you have been ousted from one barrel and now belong to another barrel, don’t be the moldy apple. Clean up! Wash off the mold, and let your good apple aroma permeate the barrel until you all age together into fine wine.

From my earliest memory, we FLDS people heard from the pulpit that the act of suicide is a grievous sin in the sight of God and is one of the most selfish things a person can do. We were actively and repeatedly taught how to work with our thoughts, feelings, and emotions to cultivate a positive mindset. We were warned of the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that contribute to the darkness of mind and body which travels a path that leads to suicidal thoughts, and can eventually culminate in the act itself.

I imagine we can all agree that suicide is preceded by discouragement and chronic depression. What causes this? There is no single answer. But in a nutshell, discouragement comes from within when we react to influences from without.

I am a witness that as a people, we were taught and encouraged specifically what to think and do to protect ourselves from discouragement.

The foundation of our faith was and is Jesus Christ. Each prophet I have known has faithfully and repeatedly taught the life and works of our Lord and Savior. The most profound teachings of Jesus Christ I have ever heard came from Warren Jeffs. We studied the words and acts of Christ in order to identify and avoid the enemy of Christ.

If we heard it once, we heard it a thousand times that discouragement is the greatest tool of Satan. We studied much how to use the gifts of faith and love to stay encouraged. But we were, and apparently still are, a very proud group of people. Some of the most stubborn people that ever walked the earth are those who were born FLDS. Stubborn can be good. If you are stubborn, you can be just as stubborn doing right as you are stubborn doing wrong.

Six things come to mind that we were specifically taught as points of good behavior. In our scattered state, whether you call it escape or rejection, have we abandoned these principles?

Keys for Success

1. Keep the mind active in good thoughts through prayer and study. Read your Bible and Book of Mormon. Learn who God is and how to become like Him. Study the life and works and words of Jesus Christ. Study the lives of honorable men and women who have provided good examples for us.

2. Stay physically active in building and creating and learning skills. Idleness is the devil’s workshop. Yes, perhaps we were more old-fashioned then modern society is, but I don’t think our ancestors had much problem with suicide. If staying busy and working hard kept them out of trouble, it should work for us as well.

3. Be morally pure. Avoid corrupt sights and sounds and acts.

4. Think good of others. Speak well of others and serve others.

5. Trust in God and be respectful and obedient to parents, teachers, and leaders.

6. Take care of your body. Eat healthy food. Avoid alcohol and abstain from drugs, including mind altering drugs that can have negative effects upon one’s ability to control one’s own thoughts and emotions.

For years, many FLDS people had one foot in and one foot out. Just as in any society on earth, children fell through the cracks when parents were not active enough in the lives of their children. Teens suffered when parents were too harsh or too permissive. Wives suffered when husbands were too harsh or demanding or neglectful. Husbands suffered when wives were harsh or bad-tempered or neglectful. Parents suffered when children were disrespectful and disobedient.

Being human, we all made many mistakes. But we just aren’t honest if we blame our mistakes on our leaders or the church or our religion. I never once heard it taught over the pulpit OR under the pulpit that we should behave contrary to the laws of the Gospel as taught in the scriptures.

Okay, what happened over the last ten years in the lives of thousands? Many people either left FLDS faith, or they were sent away. Either scenario naturally resulted in a certain amount of shunning by those who remained. If being shunned caused you to lose your self-worth, maybe it should have been a wake-up call that you are too dependent on the opinions of others.

Do you have what it takes to think good of yourself no matter what other people say?

Are you doing things that promote self-respect?

So you got your “freedom”. With that new-found freedom, what happened? I think we can all agree that unchecked “freedom” without accountability breeds idleness, self-indulgence, and immorality. This narrative usually includes alcohol and drugs and excessive wasteful entertainment. Where does that lead?

Surely anyone can see that a “whatever” attitude and a haphazard, slovenly, free-for-all, devil-may-care lifestyle will take you down a path that leads to boredom and self-loathing, even crime. It takes a terrible toll on the mind and body. This decline automatically defaults sooner or later to despair and the sense of worthlessness. Whose fault is that?

You can’t blame your unworthiness on anybody but yourself. You can’t even blame the devil.

The devil CANNOT force you to do bad. God WILL NOT force you to do good. It’s your choice.

People say how hard it was on them to adapt to mainstream because FLDS culture didn’t prepare them. Boy, don’t I know it. Of course it’s hard to adapt to mainstream. I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing.

In my experience I found mainstream culture to be far more demanding and dangerous than FLDS culture. It’s a good thing I didn’t know it upfront. It was easier to take it a bite at a time and adapt slowly. The biggest challenge I find living in mainstream is maintaining my chosen identity. But that’s the whole idea of the test. We have to prove to our Heavenly Father what we really love. He will eventually give us what we want and earn.

A whole bunch of us FLDS kids were actually quite spoiled. If you grew up without the discipline of good habits, you will have hell no matter where you go. If you had a challenge adapting to mainstream…now be honest…was it because of the religion, OR…was it because you were lazy? Were you so accustomed to blessings, you just expected a handout?

Dang. Even mainstream bosses don’t like it when their employees are lazy, rude, disrespectful, drunk, high, late, or no-show. Shoot. You mean I have to work for my toys in mainstream just like my FLDS leaders thought I had to work for my blessings? Scrud. It’s just not fair.

Did you expect your teachers and leaders to come to your house every day to make sure you got out of bed and washed your face and did your exercises and ate good food to make the best kind of you? Did you expect your parents to hold your hand through your teens and into adulthood to protect you from all the tests and trials so you wouldn’t ever feel unloved and unwanted?

Who is ultimately responsible for you?

Life is challenging, I agree. If it is unbearable, why is it? Did you turn your back on the good habits you were taught to strictly keep? Did you forget your prayers? Did you forget the One who gives you His Spirit as protection against evil? Did you forget how to say, “Get thee behind me, Satan”?

Let’s face it. When you found your freedom in the world, you allowed yourself to be absorbed, more or less, into mainstream culture. Mainstream is largely a godless society. The universal cry is to live for self and promote self. How is that working out for you?

You joined mainstream and adopted its customs, not all of which are good or right or safe. In FLDS culture when you get discouraged, you WORK it off. You read and pray and sing. You do something to bless someone else.

In mainstream culture when you get discouraged, you sleep in, get drunk or high, and party on! But dang. Then you wake up and have to deal with the hangover and the consequences of whatever happened the night before. After so many lovely occasions like that, then what? Where does it lead? How long does it take until you can’t stand yourself any longer?

The most lamentable custom of mainstream is suicide.

They say that the rate of suicide among the FLDS is higher per capita compared to mainstream. This statement is inaccurate. For one thing, the statistics include deaths that were claimed as suicide, but have no proof of being such.

If there is a higher rate of suicide among ex-FLDS, it is only because folks did not take responsibility for their thoughts and deeds. True, there is a greater gap between one culture and the other because the two are so dissimilar.. Those who cross the great divide must trek through a formidable gulf to find a place of compatibility.

So, would you also blame FLDS religion for that as well? Would you have us raise our innocent children by saying, “Listen, my child, in case you ever want to dump your faith and turn your back on your blessings and go live in a place where there is death and darkness and destruction all around you and be surrounded by selfishness and immorality, here is all you need to know about the world.”

We do not teach our children the bitter that they might appreciate the sweet. We all experience bitter in the natural temptations of life. We teach our children how to deal with temptation and overcome. If individuals choose to leave the faith and culture they were born and raised in, they have every freedom to do so. But they will naturally find it very difficult. Who are you going to blame?

If you go live with the devil, will you be mad at God for not teaching you how to get along with the devil?

This country was founded on religious freedom. People should be free to organize themselves in whatever religious capacity they desire. Parents should be free to teach their children what they believe and raise them in their chosen culture. If parents later change their minds about that faith and culture, naturally, a certain amount of confusion and displacement will occur.

Let’s be honest. Long ago we were taught how to avoid the pitfall of discouragement. Did we sleep through the teachings, the meetings, and the sermons? Did we feel burdened by all the requirements? Did we resent not having our “freedom”?

If you wanted to do your own thing your own way, you got your wish. Now what?

Can anyone actually in good conscience blame their self-inflicted hard knocks on the man who has spent his life teaching the people he loves how to avoid such things?

Nobody can make you feel down on yourself.

Nobody can make you feel bad except you.

Nobody but you is responsible for your happiness.

Many say they lived in doubt and fear in FLDS society. Wow. That is way different from living in mainstream. Everybody is always happy and content and successful in mainstream, right?

People say they found it a horrendous task to keep up with the requirements put upon them by FLDS leaders. They were afraid of not being good enough.

Well of course you experienced doubt and fear. I did too. That was the whole point of the test. Learn how to deal with fear and overcome it. The only way to do that was to stop relying on our friends and family to make us happy and get close to our Creator and earn His confidence. Those who do so earn self-confidence and self-respect in the process.

A very high standard was set for us. We had no choice but to either step forward or step backward.

The fence became too thin, too razor sharp to stand upon.

Many people say that since leaving the FLDS, they found true freedom and no longer live in fear. They are happy and content in mainstream. Well, of course you are! The absence of conflict makes you feel like you are in heaven even though you might actually be in hell.

We might not be aware of the slow cooking of the pot until we are bunt to a crisp.

Enjoy your heaven as long as you can. But please, my friend, find out what truly makes you happy. Love yourself enough to not lie to yourself. Complaining will never bring you happiness.

We may not recognize that separation is often a blessing in disguise. People say they were taught to hate their mother or father or son or daughter or neighbor. This is not true. People may have interpreted a separation as entitlement to shun others or criticize or judge those who were sent away. All that means is that those who were NOT sent away failed the test by judging those who were sent away.

The truth is, and I am a witness, that the Prophet Warren Jeffs never once taught or promoted that anyone should hate anyone for any reason. On the contrary, he exerted much energy thousands of times teaching us that we must overcome criticism and love our neighbors as ourselves.

Yes, he was the messenger for many situations which required separation. Separation does not mean hate. Why should we have raunchy feelings about something that can actually benefit us? I don’t think separation was ever intended to cause dissension among those separated. On the contrary, it should have caused increased love and respect and longing to be reunited.

I do agree that dissension is a natural result of the test—natural for those who care more about feelings than they do principle. It’s like holding on to a fistful of dirt refusing to let it go because it’s MINE! God offers a world in return for our fistful of dirt, but we are too deaf, blind, and dumb to understand.

Sometimes people are not good for each other. Sometimes they need separated to have a chance to find themselves. Even famous mentors in mainstream society who pump self-improvement will advise you to avoid associations with anyone who has a negative effect or impact on your life.

The whole focus of Mormonism is to love God and love one another.

But too often, as a people, we cared more about what each other thought then we cared about what God thought of us. Although Mormonism is basically a “together” society with focus on family, sometimes separations occur to help us find ourselves. When a person finds himself or herself terribly alone, in order to survive, they have to appeal to God. In so doing, we learn about ourselves and our relationship to Him.

The world calls that a sabbatical, a time of introspection, a deep breathing exercise, one-on-one with your Creator to discover yourself.

Somehow those opportunities for self-improvement, and the necessary hard experience one must go through to earn those improvements, have been twisted and misrepresented as a religion and ideology of hate.

True, the life of a Mormon is not easy. Every FLDS member has been corrected by God. Every single one of us has been jolted out of our comfort zone. Sometimes the love of God starts with a spanking. If we are unable or unwilling to recognize Tough Love when we see it and feel it, we will always be wimpy whiners.

With all the adjustments and separations among the FLDS, true, it appeared that many innocent and obedient people were also corrected and sent away to test the strength of their faith. Although this was shocking at the time, it answers the warnings that Mormons have received many times during the last couple centuries that we would face unimaginable tests.

“A test, a test, a test is coming,” said Heber C. Kimball, “and who will be able to stand the test?”

The tests among us gave the clear message that nobody is above repentance, a great equalizer to obliterate class-distinction. The prophecy calling us to judgment clearly stated that every FLDS family will be affected by great trials, hard experience, and tremendous contradictions, followed by the scourge of falling away. This has happened just as it was foretold.

But with the judgment, and true to the nature of God, the same prophecy also gave the solution to prevent horrid reactionary extremes such as suicide which may result from the judgment which has come upon spoiled entitled, extremely blessed, people.

Most people are not interested in the solution because they are looking for someone to blame. Now, if somebody like Tony Robbins comes along in your life to kick butt, sometimes people stop whining and take responsibility. If people claim that their religion destroyed them, perhaps they can accept another form of religion such as the power of positive thought to prevent suicide.

Even leaders in mainstream don’t agree with blaming others for the lack in yourself.

How the devil must laugh to see people embrace his philosophy and then blame God for the consequences. 

The tests and judgments AKA “abuse”, depending on how you look at it, have been severe upon every man, woman, and child among the FLDS. I have been through it myself, same as everyone. But my faith is what saves me daily and keeps me going. I can never repay my Heavenly Father for what He has taught me.

My success is found in obedience to FLDS teachings, not in spite of them. I am far from perfect. Like my grandfather Richard Seth Jessop said, “Though I walk this path falteringly, still I know it is the correct path.”

I have never heard of anyone committing suicide who actually followed the teachings of the prophets. The only people I know of who were once numbered among the FLDS succumbing to suicide are those who left their faith and the good habits associated with it.

There is no such thing as suicide among faithful FLDS.

In spite of popular opinion, the FLDS is not extinct. I personally know thousands of strong-minded people who are active in faith. The voice of the faithful is very small, yet God is on their side. One man and God is the majority.

Nobody is going to get away forever with either rebellion or self-righteousness. Even if you were actually treated badly by friends and family who may have misunderstood that separation meant they were entitled to shun and despise, even then, you are not justified in destroying yourself. Don’t be content with bad feelings and retaliation. Don’t allow other people’s opinions to rule your life.

Jesus was treated very badly. How did he react? How about Gandhi? What kind of a people were Betsie and Corrie ten Boom? These people were treated horribly. They could have been justified in holding a grudge much more than you and I. No matter how we look at it, we simply have no excuse.

The most DESTRUCTIVE IDEOLOGY is your own self-pity.

The cancerous grudge you hold will eat out your heart.

The most TWISTED RELIGION is your own warped opinions that you refuse to relinquish. They have the power to destroy you.

If you no longer believe in God, start with good habits. A pill won’t fix you. Anti-depressants will not keep you safe forever from suicidal thoughts. Band-Aids don’t cure cancer.

Even if you are now alone in the world, you can make the best of yourself from this moment on. Even if you have lost your support system, if you hold on to your honor and practice the good thoughts and good works you formerly learned and practiced, I believe you will find a great degree of contentment and satisfaction and be safe from the horror of suicide.

For those looking for happiness and independence, both physically and mentally, Best Wishes!

Please beware.

The very independence you hope to achieve by casting blame will become your prison cell. Embracing the world and partaking excessively of its shiny objects without the proper balance of faith and works will destroy your focus, steal your mind, and eventually chain your heart.

The ideology of modern society is your dangerous enemy.

Suicide will not stop until people stop griping. Not until people quit expecting handouts, not until people stop excessive self-indulgence that leads to the corruption of self-respect and the depletion of self-worth. Not until parents teach their children to recognize self-pity and avoid it like the bubonic plague. Not until we all take responsibility for our own actions. Not until we learn to love unconditionally. Not until we keep our hands busy in worthy endeavors that build up the human spirit.

Whether you are an FLDS believer or unbeliever, a mainstream Mormon, or a traditional Christian. No matter your religion or belief system; even if you are an atheist.

GRATITUDE IS THE ANSWER!

Even if you feel like you were harmed by a religious culture, I bet you can find at least one good thing in those experiences. Start by being grateful for that one thing. It just might surprise you how beautiful your life can become when you start saying, “Thank you.”

Jesus Christ gave His life for those who will repent. As long as life lasts, there is hope. Who cannot see the value of consistently battling the darkness within ourselves? Consider the great gifts of faith, hope, charity, and love we can earn by using the precious gift of repentance to improve our lives.

Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God.”

Joseph Smith

 

Who am I? What do I stand for?

These days if you want to see sparks fly and get punched in the noggin’, you talk about religion or politics. Most people have pretty strong opinions about God and Donald Trump, not to mention a gazillion more subjects. People tend to react strongly if you say anything black, or white, or sometimes gray. And talk about the rainbow? Oh, my. Folks see red and you get a big fat black mark. Humans are big on the color wheel.

Quite a few folks have patronized me for sharing my views about my faith and culture, and my experiences among my people, the FLDS Mormons. They say, “Now Maggie, if you want to learn to get along in the world and make money, don’t talk about those embarrassing things. Just stick to basics.”

I don’t know of anything more basic than faith in God.

True, I have strong opinions about faith, taking responsibility, freedom of religion, religious tolerance, deceptions and hoaxes, and politics. But that doesn’t mean I intend to quarrel and debate. I just pretend that everyone agrees with me.

Now don’t be saying bad language words. Can you blame me for pretending? Obviously, I am in the extreme minority. If I open myself up to debate, I would be like a little mouse chased by a pack of hungry lions in a Roman coliseum while blood-thirsty millions shout and jeer and throw taunts and tomatoes.

The fact that the controversy concerning the FLDS has mushroomed into epic proportions proves an epic point.

Advertising works!

C’mon, admit it. You have seen so many Coke commercials over the years that now most people keep the niggling idea in the back of their minds that if you drink Coke regularly, you will somehow be thin and fit and beautiful and make friends easily.

So it is with “news” about the FLDS. You have heard and read so many negative things so many times, that now you just KNOW all there is to know. Most people have formed strong opinions based on inaccurate and misleading reports and perceptions opposite from truth. Even shades of truth or isolated truth or twisted truth is still not truth.

Naturally, when one writes  on controversial subjects, it tends to kick up dust. Some people eat dust and choke on it. A few might get a clean cloth and wipe the dust from their spectacles so they can see more clearly. Sometimes when you express positive opinions about unpopular subjects, others accuse you of being down on them because they have a negative outlook. ‘Tis a puzzlement.

Having recently heard of a great deal of venomous debate and negative comments from people I once enjoyed fellowship with, I share my thoughts. In spite of popular opinion, the FLDS is not extinct. There are still thousands of believers. Though many are scattered, someday, there will be a gathering.

Who am I anyway? I am a teacher tailor trucker sort of gal who likes good people, good food, good humor, and good works. I am pro-God, pro-faith, pro-work, pro-think, pro-life. I make no apologies for this. If you find my words offensive, you are welcome to borrow my glasses. You might call them rose-colored. I,too, enjoy color, especially pink.

I don’t really expect the general public to entirely understand or appreciate my point of view. Realizing there is extremely negative publicity about my faith and my people, I believe it is only fair to have at least one positive perspective from a female believer since it is we women who have been widely represented as spineless and brainless victims of abuse.

Besides writing to keep myself busy and out of trouble which takes a great deal of my time, I also write for future generations. I write for the sake of history. I write to record a moment in history. My moment.

I lived in FLDS communities for the first 47 years of my life. I am intimately acquainted with the people and the lifestyle. I have since lived on my own in mainstream society for nearly 8 years. I have had ample time and opportunity to compare both cultures, I’ve had time enough to observe and deduce the cause and effect of each culture not only upon myself and my children, but upon many other families as well.

When it comes to opinions concerning FLDS culture, I have observed that many dissenters are playing the victim card. Here’s a teensy suggestion from someone who only wishes your happiness. Whether you are a lost boy, wandering girl, self-made power woman, or liberated man-hunk, nobody will never achieve a worthy degree of self-respect and self-confidence by blaming anyone for anything.

The quickest way to destroy yourself is to constantly dwell on all the reasons you think you ought to feel bad. Does anyone love spending time with a griper? Anyone? Yes, of course, misery loves company, but how long can people stand it?

Fact is, as a people, we FLDS were very spoiled. Most of us had blessings handed out on golden platters, and we grew up with expectations of entitlement. We were guilty of class distinction and thought we were better than each other, and especially better than those in mainstream. God called us to judgment for on-going criticism of one another, for bad feelings, bad habits, and especially for pride-the ugly kind. How appropriate of Him to banish us to the world to learn how to look for good in others even if they are not like us. Seems like He wants us to learn that He loves all of His children, not just us FLDS kids.

It would be far easier and safer to say nothing since the subject is so unpopular. Since I have many friends and acquaintances in mainstream, it would be the simplest thing ever to blend in, dress down, and join all the “fun stuff” and joke my way into mindless oblivion. I could easily be absorbed into popular culture until my true identity is obliterated. I could probably even achieve anonymity to the point that people would no longer study me as though I am a fascinating relic from a prehistoric museum.

But there comes a time in each person’s life when one has to ask, 

“Who am I?

What do I believe?

Where did I come from?

Where am I going?

How on EARTH am I going to get to HEAVEN?”

There comes a day on the road of life when each person must stand up for what they believe. No matter what scandalous stories you may have heard; no matter how confusing all the promised tests and contradictions might be, the truth is that FLDS faith and culture was and is true Mormonism, as taught by Joseph Smith and the prophets who followed him. The whole focus of the Mormon faith is to trust in God, and to love and serve our fellow man…and woman…and child.

In a nutshell, this is what I believe:

“We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in 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.”

Articles of Faith #13 by Joseph Smith

 

We should be able to say that because of our association with one another, “I am a better person having known you.”

Years ago I heard this story which found a permanent spot in my memory. A Spanish girl named Elizabeth told the story about a sweet and unusual friendship between her mother and an old native Indian woman from Central America who came to their home often.

With each visit, the Indian woman gave Elizabeth’s mother some partridge eggs and berries as a gift. The native woman spoke only Araucanian and Elizabeth’s mother spoke only Spanish.

Their conversation was minimal as they sat at the table together drinking tea and eating cake while smiling and laughing. Each time the Indian woman rose to leave, she said the exact same words to her friend.

With much curiosity, Elizabeth and her sisters memorized the words and later, found someone who could translate Araucanian. When Elizabeth found out what the Indian woman had said to her mother so many times, she was greatly touched and thought it was the nicest compliment ever spoken.

Each time the Indian woman rose from the table to leave after visiting her friend, she said,

“I shall come again, for I like myself when I am near you.”

Holy bovine! It’s official. I actually have a real live, cuter-than-a-bug children’s book published in eBook, paperback, and hardback available on both Amazon and Ingram Spark outlets.

The CAT MEOW

EBook ISBN: 

Paperback ISBN: 

Hardback IBN:

https://smile.amazon.com/Cat-Meow-nobody-myself-Storybooks/dp/1734002409

 

I also published my memoir WHERE MUCH IS GIVEN.

My perspective is from the other side of the mountain of opinions. Personally, I think it’s a beautiful story. Not popular, but if I was popular, I’d wonder what was wrong with me. Whatever the majority is doing, I go do the opposite. …Unless the majority is doing the right thing, which I doubt.

Paperback ISBN:

EBook ISBN:

Hardback ISBN:

https://smile.amazon.com/Where-Much-Given-daughter-Mormons-ebook/dp/B07YR2PN8D

My father had lots of fun ways to teach lessons. One day he put a bowl of candy on his desk. Sure enough pieces of candy began to disappear throughout the next several days. One night he came home for prayer time and brought the bowl of candy with him. He pointed out that several pieces of candy were gone.

“Did I offer anyone a piece of candy?” he asked.

We all looked around the circle shaking our heads. A few notable guilty expressions from various petty thieves were obvious, including my own little fat face.

Father said, “I want to be able to trust my family to not touch things on my desk. If you see something anywhere that isn’t yours, don’t take it without permission. Even if you are all alone in the room, who can see you?”

“Heavenly Father!” we all chorused.

“That’s right,” Father said with a smile. “Let’s have clean hands and pure hearts. Remember, I’m your cute little Dad, and you are my cute little Kiddos. I want to trust you.”

Father replenished the candy bowl and put it back on his desk. By the next weekend, fewer pieces had disappeared when he called for an accounting. It had been a sore temptation for me. Several times I had walked by Father’s empty office. Nobody was looking. How easy it would be to snitch just one little piece. But I couldn’t get past the fact that an unseen Witness saw everything.

We gathered for prayer time once again that weekend, and Father brought the candy bowl. He noted that fewer pieces were gone and pointed out the improvement. Again he voiced the lesson that God sees all we do. Again he said he wanted to trust his family to not touch things that didn’t belong to us.

Father filled the candy bowl and put it back on his desk. Another couple weeks went by of trial, some error, and then an accounting and assessment time. Finally, after about a month, he brought the candy bowl to prayer time completely intact. He was thrilled. The rest of us were too.

Father passed the candy around and admonished us to keep on being the good kids we were.

From WHERE MUCH IS GIVEN

Memoir by Maggie Jessop Jeffs publishing soon

Last week I was trucking near Tucson and saw an IN-N-Out Burger joint. It is particularly dangerous for me to be hungry while driving a semi-truck and come upon In-N-Out. Something about those freshly cooked French fries with the pink pickle sauce has me hitting the brakes and looking for a place to park.

Give me forty acres and I’ll turn this rig around, right? Not sure if they mean my truck or my backside.

In-N-Out totally intrigues me. Their menu is child’s play, only half a dozen items, yet people pour in-n-out of In-N-Out like their lives depend on it. Somebody is making some serious dough. Besides the buns, that is.

Well, my noggin got to coggin’, and I came up with a plan. I think I’ll open a restaurant called Up-N-Down. I’m currently looking for investors. Anyone? Anyone?

We should have more food choices than In-N-Out. I propose we have EVERYTHING on the menu from healthy food to the lowest of the low, maybe grease chips with fake nacho cheese lava. Sound good?

When a chunky cheek chick comes into my restaurant, we will offer weight loss assistance by steering her towards the DOWN side of the restaurant to keep her encouraged with her diet. We will begin with a large glass of water followed by two ounces of beef liver accompanied by three large broccoli florets. She’s gonna love it!

Those on the anorexic side will quickly be shuttled to the UP side of our restaurant since they need to stack on a few lubs so the next summer breeze doesn’t blow them off to Shanghai. For these folks, we will serve all manner of non-food items to encourage weight GAIN. I’m thinking along the lines of pizza, fries, ice cream, donuts, twenty-five choices of cake, and Flam-Nuggers. That’s what my three-year–old son christened a hamburger.

We are going to make a ton of money. Shark Tank, here we come!

If that doesn’t work, I’ll open a new restaurant called Side-to-Side. We will feature only side dishes, absolutely no main dishes allowed. Everyone will lose weight. So awesome!

Wait. How about a diner called Back-and Forth? What say we have a mandatory stipulation that our customers walk backward to enter the restaurant. Then when they go forth, they will always come back. Cool.

One more brainstorm. How about a coffee shop called Ahead-N-Behind. Hmm, that could be misinterpreted. We could have weekly bicycle competitions to work off the daily latte, wot? That makes sense. Some people will be ahead, and some will be behind.

What’s your neat idea for a restaurant?

Now, pipe down, everybody. Don’t get offended by my fat jokes. I don’t have much room to talk. Last May someone nice bought me a fat-laden birthday dessert about the same size as I was. When I saw the pictures, it was the last haystack. No wonder my funny husband used to call me Marge the Large Barge.

Now, four months later, I find myself forty pounds leaner. I can handle the teasing a little better now.

Can I have my cake and eat it too?

YES!

Forty down

Forty to go.

Give me forty acres, and I’ll turn this rig around.

 

 

This is the second publication in a series on Amazon called FLDS Lady.

This book is Part One of three which will complete my personal memoirs.
Still tweaking my book cover. Soon to publish…

This account is from the “opposite side of the mountain”. All stories currently being told about the FLDS are negative, even extremely derogatory. Although my story may be far less sensational and indeed, less popular, it is still my truth. There are plenty of negative perceptions. It seems only fair to have at least one positive perspective. This is a piece of history.

Part Two: Stranger in a Strange Land
Part Three: Traveling the Highroad

Yaaaay! Finally, almost ready to publish my first children’s book.

THE CAT MEOW is the first in a children’s book series called Square Peg Storybooks
Written by Maggie Jessop
Illustrated by Filipa Losada
Published by Highroad North
Coming soon on Amazon!

A story about being yourself.

Way back when I was a kitten, all kinds of personalities lived on our farm. Everybody tried to be somebody else. The mule thought he was John Wayne, and the cow said he was smart as Einstein. The duck imagined he was Crocodile Dundee, and the chickens shrieked the Hallelujah Chorus like a bunch of Joan Sutherlands. The rooster impersonated Johnny English, and the dog recited the Gettysburg address. The goat quoted Shakespeare, and the lamb tried to be Mother Teresa and create world peace. And the horse? He was convinced he was Tony Robbins.
Everybody tried to be somebody by putting on a show and saying fancy things.

Me? I just said, “Meow.”

 

 

I learned early on that the human heart has the capacity to love many people. I have often heard the mainstream argument that too many children means there is not enough love and attention to go around. Not so in my family. If anybody felt left out, it was only because they wouldn’t get their lazy carcass out of bed in time to get in on all the fun.

For some reason, most of us Jessop kids were night people. I have no idea why. Our father was a morning person. He wanted us up and busy in the mornings. “Mind over mattress, people!” he often said with a grin.

Most of us spent our childhood awake and alert and full of energy at nighttime. We often played hide and seek after dark. It was way more exciting tracking the enemy in the dark.

We were like the energizer bunny. We never stopped bouncing until we finally pinked out somewhere around one ‘o clock in the morning. The next morning invariably dawned sooner than unconsciousness expired, bringing with it the typical “drag meself out of bed” syndrome.

Father often said, “If you’re going to dance all night, you have to pay the fiddler.”

My brother Joe coined a famous line to illustrate the guilt battle of sluggish mornings. “Whenever I get up late,” he said wisely, “I feel like sneakin’ around the rest of the day. I hate that.”

One time I came up with a great idea. Father had called a work project the following morning. I was only too aware of my weakness of sleeping like the dead in the morning. I could not risk being absent for the project. I reasoned with my sister Becky that the only way to be absolutely sure we were up the next morning was to never go to bed. I talked her into joining me in staying awake. What an idea!

We raided the pantry that night for stay-awake snacks, and watched the hours slip by. We managed to stay awake until it was time to get up. Nothing short of dynamite could have awakened me after I finally succumbed to weariness.

Father was not impressed. Later that afternoon when I finally awoke and explained my motive behind my absence, he was still not impressed.

“What a solution, Maggie,” he chided. “Stay up all night so you can be up early the next morning? Now that’s not only un-smart. It’s downright dumb.”

I had to agree. I was famous that day for doing the dumbest thing ever. Sure seemed like a good idea at the time. I thought I was invincible. I had so much energy at night, I thought if I never put it to rest, I could keep going like the energizer bunny. Apparently not.

After the initial disappointment of my transgression wore off, Father often told the story as though he thought his kiddos were the funniest kids on the planet.

“I have GOT to be up tomorrow morning, so I’m going to STAY AWAKE all night!” he cried slapping his knee while the whole family, including me, laughed uproariously. “What an idea!” he exclaimed.

I learned early on that to stay alive in the fast lane, I had to be able to laugh at myself. There was no other way to get out of a predicament and get past embarrassment.

Father never let us kids stew in our juices too long. He brought things out into the open and helped us to face things squarely. He always forgave us for childish pranks.

From WHERE MUCH IS GIVEN

Memoirs of Maggie Jessop coming in September 2019 on Amazon

My childhood felt free as a bird. Sometimes we may have been a little too free and were prone to mass participation in mud fights, water fights, and clod fights as opportunity permitted.

Jessop kids seemed to know no fear. Our dare-devil escapades on bikes, in swings, on roofs, in trees, on mountains, and in water holes would probably have given our parents a few heart attacks if they had seen it all. It seemed like we always had something to do and boredom was virtually unknown. Rarely did anyone fall through the cracks, but sometimes naughty behavior resulted in the loss of privilege.

I recall one instance when my brother Nathan and I got punished with the withdrawal of dessert for helping ourselves to the pantry one too many times. We skulked off together and discussed at length the unfair persecution we were suffering at the hands of our mother. We concluded that all the rest of our siblings were her favorites since they were chuffing their fat faces full of Betty Crocker chocolate cake and sticking out their tongues showing off the disgusting evidence.

Nate and I decided that since nobody loved us, we would teach everybody a lesson and run away. Oh, how they would suffer when they didn’t see us again in this life. We planned a heist of one loaf of bread and a quart jar of canned peaches for our subsistence and set off down the creek.

We hid behind a sand bank for a couple hours and polished off our food supply while watching our spoiled rotten siblings run around whooping like wild Indians. Occasionally, Mother Ruth stepped outside to check on things, but nobody even seemed to notice our absence. That was a serious insult to our juvenile pride. Our planned retribution was having no effect whatsoever.

Nate and I discussed things further. We reasoned there was a slight possibility the punishment had fit the crime. We had recently digested the Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn and could relate to the adventuresome idea of living on the edge. It seemed only right for us to pay for a small percentage of our crimes.

After another hour when loneliness began to set in, we analyzed the possibility that perhaps our mother loved us a little bit after all. We decided to give our family one more chance to treat us right, and we returned to the fold forthwith.

From WHERE MUCH IS GIVEN

Autobiography by Maggie Jessop Jeffs
Coming soon on Amazon

 

 

 

From Maggie’s forthcoming book “WHERE MUCH IS GIVEN”

It was typical for my sisters and I clad in ruffles and lace to be found skipping down Main Street holding hands on our way to school singing songs in three part harmony at the top of our lungs.

Once in a while, Father joined us in our skipping jubilees. We all competed to see who could skip the fastest and highest. Because Father was never embarrassed to be seen clowning with his kiddos, we weren’t embarrassed either. Sometimes our brothers joined us, but since they were outnumbered, they preferred keeping a safe distance behind the overabundance of sisters.

Sometimes tourists drove through our community. I imagine we made a fascinating picture with our unplanned parades. It was not uncommon to see unfamiliar vehicles doing the turtle drive occupied by goggle-eyed gogglers hanging out the window with tongues and cameras waggling.

The strangers seemed to think we were strange, but they couldn’t see that their strangeness was even stranger to us.

Our parents and teachers warned us to not accept rides or gifts from strangers. They said the world did not like our family structures and were busy trying to find ways to attack us and break up our community. We were taught to keep our mouths shut and not offer information. It could harm our fathers for strangers to know they had multiple wives and more children than the public thought they should have.

I was a communicator by nature, and much too friendly for my own good. But I could most definitely see the wisdom of silence. Sometimes I blundered.

One day when I was about eight years old, a stranger knocked on our front door and I answered it. I snapped to attention to see an unfamiliar face. My immediate reaction was fear, but I quickly regained my composure and offered a cautious grin. The man was a vacuum salesman. He was tall and good-looking with a mustache. “Is your mother home?” he asked pleasantly.

Without hesitation, I replied, “Nope! Neither one of them are.”

Mr. Mustache and I stared at one another, he in mock surprise, and me in horror that I had just revealed a family secret which was actually no secret at all since we had never made any effort whatsoever to hide our family relationships. We held the stare, and finally he cracked. Shaking with laughter, he blurted, “Then you are going to be in double the trouble.”

I didn’t think it was that funny. But I laughed to insure him I was in charge of the situation. Soon the mothers came home and we bought a vacuum. Mr. Mustache was ecstatic, and life went on.

In those days I suspect vacuum salesmen who were brave enough to knock on doors in Short Creek became millionaires.

In households with many children, the most valued tool of all had to be a good vacuum. I never saw one outlast a family. Any salesman with half a brain could see that if he could overlook the silly rumors of violence and death he might risk by wandering among the infamous polygamists, he might discover a goldmine.

If he could mind his manners and not ask too many questions of silly little girls who accidentally spilled secrets that weren’t really secrets, he could return every six months and make another vacuum sale.

From WHERE MUCH IS GIVEN

Coming soon on Amazon