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Watch Where You’re Walking

Back in the late 70s I remember hearing a talk in church about the gospel being like a fast moving train. The premise of the talk was that here in the last days those who got off the train would never be able to make it back on and would be left behind. The speaker mentioned that in years past people could leave the train for a while and go off and experiment a bit with life and the world, and when they were ready they would be able to hop back on the train, lessons learned. But those days are gone, and he cautioned us that those who get off the train are in danger of never making it back onboard. I remember sitting there thinking why would anybody want off?

Years later I was on a train going across the midlands of England when for no apparent reason we came to a rather quick stop in the middle of nowhere. I told the person next to me that I thought we were being robbed. She laughed. Turns out we were. Even though the signs were there, I didn’t look for the exit. I sat there and waited for the men to come into our car. I figured things would be ok because after all we were missionaries so nothing bad would happen to us. And so I sat there and waited for the train to start moving again.

My Journey on the LDS express turned out to be a lot like that evening in England. While traveling happily along, occasionally the train would seem to stop for no apparent reason, alarm bells would sound and I would convince myself it was fine. Sure enough the train would get moving again. A few years back I had that old familiar feeling that the train was losing speed. But this time would be different, this time I was not going to let it slow. And so to strengthen my testimony, give more steam to the engine, I dove into church history. Turns out I didn’t need to wait for the train to slow because I was about to open the door and jump.

It would be nice if the Latter-day Express came with a car that would allow the non-believer room to ride a long, keep their family together, and still have that wonderful community that makes up Mormonism. But only believers are allowed on this train, leaving you with two options, stay and fake it, or get off. I am pretty sure I have sprained an ankle, hit a few rocks, and I am still nowhere near the end of my tumble. For everyone who gets off the Latter-day Express the reasons are different. How they choose to disembark also varies. Some walk safely off at the next station as the train slows, others find the emergency pull cord and bring the whole thing to a screeching halt while everyone they are traveling with yells and screams and demands answers. And then they make their exit. Others like me just jump off in the middle of night and wait for everyone to figure out that I haven’t just left the car momentarily to go to the bathroom, I’ve left the train.

The fascinating part is that as train cars pass good intentioned friends hang out the window and ask “What the heck are you doing? Look at you walking, you could get lost out there. Now just get back on the train, and stop being silly.” Should you come across a rattle snake or be in need of water, they are quick to hang out the window and say “Well what did you expect would happen? If you had just stayed on the train…” Night comes, it always does. In the distance wolves howl and it’s easy to lay there in the dark remembering the safety and shelter of the train, because mixed with the night sounds of the howling wolves is the persistent chug of the engines that once rocked you to sleep; destination, destination, destination… It’s tempting to run back to the certainty of what’s familiar. Some do.

As a passenger on the Mormon Express it doesn’t matter what’s going on outside the windows of the train, what’s important is that you reach your destination. Destination, destination, destination…the train whispers on its way down the tracks. You’re not happy--it’s ok, you will be. There is nothing you need that is not on this train. Being really happy, isn’t what’s important in this life, enduring this train ride to the end, that’s where real happiness is. That’s where eternal happiness is. It’s sad isn’t it, how those not on this train think they are happy, but we know, ooohhhh we know, that without the safety of this train no one’s happiness lasts forever.

The big question ticket-bearing passengers ask me is how am I going to get to my destination? They want answers; they want to know I at least have a plan. Which is ironic since no other mode of transportation in this life is acceptable to them how could I give them a good answer? I tell them I don’t know, but I know it won’t be on that train.

It’s common to hear church members make the comment that those who have left the church can’t seem to leave the church alone. It’s like they think I’m going around with my spray can painting graffiti on the sides of the cars. Many who jump would love to leave the train far behind, but those tracks run through every aspect of our lives. When your whole family is still on the train, you don’t wander far from the tracks. Many jumpers lay in bed each night with a ticket-holding spouse and huge piece of track lying between them. So yes, for many jumpers our new course never veers too far from the tracks, but at least we are free to travel as we choose.

I honestly believe that once you get off the train it allows you to focus on the journey. The world outside of the train is nothing like what I was told. There are good non-train riding people on bikes, skateboards, cars, airplanes, golf carts and even people who are content to go it alone without any assistance and walk it--all fellow travelers, enjoying the journey, enjoying their families, their communities and living lives of integrity.

For me the word destination no longer reverberates throughout my whole being. I prefer to travel without the aid of any ecclesiastical help. So for now, I’m walking this journey. In the fall and rise of my footsteps it’s not longer about what I hear; it’s about all that I see. It’s about my choices being mine to own and dealing with life and consequence in the here and now. Hopefully my choices make my journey and the journey of those around me more enjoyable. If you have left the Latter-day Express, I hope you find a mode of transportation that allows you to enjoy the journey. As long as we can do that, the destination will take care of itself.

Buyer's Remorse

I love music. Who am I kidding? I really LOVE music. Some music can create a temporary vacation in my heart and mind, depending on the song of course. Country music can create the opposite of a vacation. Sorry Garth Brooks fans, but he isn’t very good.

Anyway, I recently found myself in need for some new headphones. I had some extra money set aside for this very occasion, so I decided to go a little big and purchase some high quality headphones. So I purchased my first pair of Skullcandy chrome FMJ’s. These babies were sweet and built very sturdy and the sound was amazing! But, after only a month of fair usage, they started to short out. The left ear eventually stopped working. Yes, I even caught myself leaning my head to one side thinking that it was my head’s position that was the problem. I was very angry. I had purchased only the mid to cheap headphones up to this point and the one time I decide to go big time and expensive, they didn’t even last a month?! Yeah, I was pissed. I did send them back and use the lifetime warranty to get them replaced, but instead of getting another pair of FMJ’s, I opted to get the FIXED ear buds instead.

So, I began to think about all the things I could have purchased with that money instead of those stupid expensive headphones. And I started to feel frustrated about the time I would be without a good pair of headphones while I waited for the replacement. I fell into what’s commonly known as buyer’s remorse.

Regret and I go way back. We have spent a lot of time together. One particular time when I almost overdosed on regret was when my friend Joe killed himself. Why didn’t I hang out with him more? Why wasn’t I a better friend?

Another glaring moment of regret is my mission. I also regret selling my 1969 mustang for my mission. I also regret getting married so young and starting a family so early. I think you get where I’m going. I have many, many regrets and it finds its way to overwhelm me at times.

I know, I know. I shouldn’t regret so much of my life. I wish I didn’t. I’m honestly working on it, believe me. I can hear you thinking, “Maybe he should spend a little more time looking forward instead of what is already behind him.” Fine. You wanna play the obvious card? I’ll accept that.

One of the things that I also use as a coping mechanism or way of healing is to accept what I have and find enjoyment in it. It’s certainly not easy, but it is what it is. My daughter recently told me how lucky and blessed she is. So I asked her why she feels that way. She then went on to explain the many problems and trials some of her friends at school have. One has a severe medical issue that requires heavy medication and the occasional surgery. She has had a surgery once a year for the past five years. One friend was severely sexually abused several years ago by a relative. One friend has 5 siblings and they live in a two bedroom apartment and she sleeps on the couch at night.

What I learned from that wonderful example of a daughter of mine is that I still have had a pretty good life. Why am I complaining about all that? I should be not only be looking forward but take some time in being thankful for what I have. So many others out there don’t have the same “privilege” that I have been blessed with. Count your blessings Tom. Sheesh.

So let me see if I can define the moral to this post. Find ways to enjoy good music, but not country music. You can buy expensive things, but they can still break. And it’s a real good chance your kids will be smarter than you and find creative ways to help you realize how selfish you are.

Choose Love

I think it’s time for me to write this letter.

In fact, I think that this letter is long overdue. I have mentioned my attitude toward the LGBT community in a earlier post on The Peacewriter. I feel years of bigotry weighing down on me. I hang my head low in reaction.

In my home state, gay marriage will never see the light of day. Several years ago, the state of Missouri passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman. It passed. My vote was one that helped it to pass.

For that, I am duly ashamed.

To think that I once felt that banning a basic civil right from a group of people based on their sexual orientation garners feelings of guilt and humility.

I did that. I was part of that.

I was afraid of the influence homosexuals had on society. I even turned away a relative because she came out to me.

How could I have done that?

I chose to educate my children at home for nearly a decade in part because someone told me that gays and lesbians were on a mission to indoctrinate the world. I read that idea in books. I read articles online. Just like off-color racist jokes, the ideas were whispered between me and other "conservative" people.

I cannot even begin to tell the gay and lesbian world how sorry I am. My regret brings me to my knees.

I get that when you know better, you do better. But I think that is a cop out. I wonder if a part of me always knew better.

I always knew that it was wrong to discriminate. I was born with that sense. But my belief system gave me the ‘right’ to act out against something I did not understand. So when I saw a gay or lesbian story line on television or in the movies, I could express my ignorance and uncomfortable unfamiliarity as prejudice, loudly, and with disgust.

I take responsibility for my thoughts, my actions, my shame.

You are my brothers and my sisters. You are parents and sons and daughters and spouses and partners. You shop in the grocery store and wring your hands over finances, cry at weddings and funerals, laugh with joy and love with ferocity.

Just like me.

Now that I have seen the truth for what it is, I have a message for people like me. Like the me I used to be.

Err on the side of love. It is about love. Let that be your guide, and the hatred, the misunderstanding, the discrimination will simply melt away.

Choose love.

Leibster Blog Award

Jen over at Only a Little Sugar Coated has nominated The Peacewriter for a Liebster Blog Award.

On behalf of our writers and contributors, thank you!

I am grateful to send the love back Jen's way with her blog that profiles her immeasurable courage and her heart and wisdom.

To pass the love along, I want to nominate a few other blogs for the same honor.

Runtu's Rincon is a witty and insightful blog by one of my favorite bloggers in the blogosphere. The author of the blog has also published a book in the past year about his mission experiences in Bolivia. While he muses on all things Mormon, I am touched by his respect for the people involved. I love this blog for its wit, intelligence, and integrity.

Not Very Useful Truths is and has been one of my favorites for a very long time. LIfeLongGuy is another one of those writers who just happens to touch on the exact thought I was having, even before I knew I had it. His words are resonating and heartfelt.

Though I am sure that she will be the recipeint of many awards, I cannot fail to mention Kiley over at We Were Going to Be Queens. She is the Queen of blogging for sure. Few blogs have touched my heart as much as Kiley's has and I watch for her latest posts. As she shares her thoughts and reflections and she manages to do it in a voice that hits me very deeply. Kiley is one of those people I hope to meet in person someday, just so I can tell her how amazing she is.

There are multiple reasons why I love Doves and Serpents. From the Ride to Church to the thoughtful Dear Jack posts, I really love this blog. Heather Olson Beal writes the words I wish that I had in my own head.

Laatly is a relatively new discovery for me, Oxymormon Girl is another witty blog that captures my attention. She sates clearly that this is not a blog meant for faithful and believing Latter-day Saints, but for those who exist on the fringes of Mormonism. So far what I like about this log is the open and frank discussion about Mormonism and the blogger's experiences through her faith journey.

As Jen posted over on her blog, if you choose to pass the love on, do the following:

The Rules are:
1. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks for the award and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Post the award on your blog.
4. Bask in the love from the most supportive people on the blogsphere – other bloggers.
5. And, best of all – have fun and spread the karma.

John and Brooke McLay

Once in a while something comes through the DAMU that touches my heart in a very real way. This interview did just that. If you have not already listened in, take the time to do so. John and Brooke share their story of faith, of angst, and disaffection in this heart wrenching interview. Few interviews have expressed the emotional journey from devout belief to realization quite as well. John Dehlin proves his mettle as a master interviewer and leads the McLays through this touching discussion.

John was a CES employee for over a decade. Brooke is the owner of The Cheeky Kitchen. They have four children. The couple lived as devoutly as they could, until the shelf began to crumble and they began the long and difficult journey so many of us know first hand. For this couple, the journey is far from over. And the costs have been great.

New Year, New Path

The beginning of 2012, like each year before it, gives us the chance for a do-over, to fix the mess-ups from the previous year. Correct years of bad habits. Get in shape. Lose weight. Leave behind things that are unhealthy or unfulfilling.

Change. Growth. Renewal. Each one is a gift of the New Year.

Change is a good thing. Walking away from bad habits or draining personal circumstances leads to positive consequences regardless of what time of the year it is.

And we can change. Many things. Health can be restored. Relationships renewed. Sanity saved after a lifetime of passive aggressiveness or borderline abusive relationships are altered or even terminated.

But then, there are those things that cannot be changed. Fortunately for humanity they tend to be few in the scope of a lifetime, but there are still those things that positive thought and meditation and exercise and goal setting just can’t touch, no matter how good our intentions are.

So, what then? What about the things that goals will never alter, but which have the negative or even harmful effects in one’s life?

Perhaps, then, the goal is not change, but acceptance. Maybe when we face the mountain, and we have created strife and angst staring it down and willing it to change, maybe the only strategy left is to look at the mountain and in a deep breath accept that it is there.

And then move forward in spite of it.

The secret is maybe found in The Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Part of the New Year ought to be learning to accept what can’t be changed rather than kick and fight and suffer when such fighting brings no change, and alters nothing. It just creates more suffering.

Does that mean the journey is over once your toe hits the bottom of the mountain?

Not at all.

Change comes in the form of reinvention. New perspectives. New paths forged in the quiet recesses the human mind. Make a new path, accept what is and then decide what will be.

In this New Year, maybe peace can be found in turning away that which stand in the path, fixed and immoveable. Turning away rather than fighting a losing battle, or hanging our heads low in defeat. Peace is found in the new path.
Here’s to your new paths this year.

Peace to all.

who we are

Welcome to The Peacewriter.

We all want to belong somewhere, to someone. It is a basic human need.

If you have ever experienced a period of doubt or questioned your beliefs in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you know that this is not a minor thing. It is tantamount to a crisis, and one that can be life altering.

Lose your testimony, and you stand to lose everything that matters.

There are those who exist on the fringes of the Church, who feel disenfranchised, even unwanted. If you are single, gay or lesbian, feminist, atheist, or uncorrelated, it can be tough to feel like a part of the community. You may feel that you do not belong.

You belong here.

If you have ever loved someone who endured a faith crisis, you know that there are a lot of gray areas. Uncertainty is the dominant force; black and white become moot points.

Those who have walked the same path share a common bond, understood by few who have not traveled the same road.

This is the place to share common experiences, to find a voice, to be heard. This is the place to seek after peace, and to find it in the common ties we share.

This is The Peacewriter.

Please visit, and visit often. We intend to post new submissions regularly. If you want to contact us directly, click on the Contact Page or email us at

We welcome your feedback and submissions.